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After a divorce in Massachusetts, what parts of the Separation Agreement or Judgment can and cannot be modified?

It is important to understand what can and cannot be modified after the parties agree to a divorce by way of using a Separation Agreement.  There are some things that can always be modified and there are some things that cannot.

Any part of your Separation Agreement having to do with minor or unemancipated children, can always be modified.  This includes child support, child custody, parenting plan, and medical insurance and expenses for the children.

The ability to modify other portions of a Separation Agreement depends entirely on how the Agreement was written and whether the Agreement “survives” or “merges” with the Judgment of Divorce.  The “survival and merger” clause of the Agreement often is embedded in the boilerplate section of the Agreement so it is very important to read through the entire Agreement, including the boilerplate sections.

If the entire Agreement or parts of the Agreement “merges”, then those sections that “merge” can be modified after the divorce.  If the entire Agreement or parts of the Agreement “survives”, then those sections that “survive” cannot be modified after the divorce.

Due to the complicated language that’s involved in drafting the Separation Agreement, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to draft and look over the Agreement before both parties sign.

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