Can a divorce settlement be re-opened after the divorce is final?

I was divorced on 11/15/05. I was just so embarrassed that it was happening that I just wanted it over and done with. About 2 years after the divorce was final I found out that for the last 3 years of our marriage my ex-husband was having an affair. He has since married her. Now both kids are out of HS and on into college. No more child support. But yet I still have the same bills I’ve always had with the kids. I teach full-time and I work 2 part-time jobs and I’m still not making it. I’m mad that he’s the one who did wrong and I’m the one who is struggling to make it. Can I get half of his 401K and can I get all the money that I had taken out of my paycheck to pay for his life insurance policy ($75 a month for close to 20 years). I don’t want to hire a lawyer if it’s not going to amount to anything.

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Family Law, Michigan


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You do not have to hire an attorney per se, but I would strongly suggest that you seek a good one out on a consultation basis.  Yes, modifications can be made to divorce decrees and settlments but there must be a very good reason.  Settlement agreements are contracts and the same principals to set aside a contract would apply: fraud, misrepresentation, etc.  An attorney would have to look at your agreement and ask you all the relevant questions as to it and your representation.  You can also - under certain circumstances - also ask for modification because of a change in circumstances and the needs of the kids can be one of them.  Courts often recognize the need for continued support through college and for payment for college fees, etc., especially if the parents are college graduates, etc.  Were you represented by counsel?  Seek help.  Good luck.

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