Is it Possible to Reopen or Dispute a Divorce Settlement in California?

divorce lawyersAt R & S Law Group, LLP, we strive for outcomes that align with our clients’ interests. Once a divorce is settled, many parties in California are more than happy with the arrangements and are now free to move on with their lives.

But what about when someone feels cheated, or as if they got stuck with an unfair or unbalanced divorce settlement? Once a divorce is finalized, the concluding arrangements are largely set in stone, though there are rare exceptions. For this post, we’re taking a look at the circumstances which could allow someone to dispute a divorce settlement and/or have it reopened by the family law courts in CA.

Reopening or Dismissing a Settlement Requires Exceptional Circumstances

California law is clear: divorce settlements can only be reopened or disputed when there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. While a broad term, this generally refers to situations where one person engaged in fraud during the divorce process, or when he/she presented false information to the courts.

For example, if a spouse hides assets during the proceedings and as a result benefits from this deception in the settlement, this opens the path to having the settlement reopened or dismissed. Note that evidence is required, as simply suspecting your ex-spouse of engaging in these activities is not enough for the courts.

In addition, there could be grounds for disputing or reopening a divorce settlement if you were under duress when the divorce was finalized. For example, if you were threatened with violence or forced/coerced to accept the settlement in any other way, this could be justification for the courts to revisit your divorce settlement.

Time Limits to Be Aware Of

On top of all this, there are time limits that restrict how long you can wait before bringing these issues to the attention of the courts. For issues involving fraud and misrepresentation, the complaint must be submitted within one year of when the fraud was uncovered. For issues of duress, complaints can only be made within two years after the divorce was finalized.

Consult with a Knowledgeable Divorce Attorney

As you can see, there are circumstances that do allow you and the family law courts to revisit the terms of your divorce, but only under very specific and rare circumstances. The best strategy, as always, is to ensure that you have qualified legal representation from the onset.

Learn more about what we do at R & S Law Group, LLP. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our seasoned divorce and family law attorneys.