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Going through a divorce can be challenging and emotional.

Rarely do both spouses in a divorce get exactly what they want, as divorce usually requires the parties to compromise to reach a settlement, with the help of a divorce attorney.

Even so, you may end up with a genuinely unfair divorce settlement. Your divorce may result in an unfair settlement for various reasons, but you may have legal options.

Can a Divorce Settlement Be Reopened?

Once a divorce is final, it may be reopened in limited circumstances. To reopen your case, your attorney will file a motion with the court. The motion must allege one of the following claims.


Fraud is a common reason to reopen a divorce case. To reopen a case claiming fraud, the moving party must prove the other party fraudulently represented some material fact. For example, if it is subsequently discovered that one of the parties was hiding money not accounted for during the division of assets, this would be considered fraud.


A mistake made during your divorce may allow you to reopen your case. Making a mistake about some fact or information that is important to the case, for example, may affect the outcome of a divorce. 


Your ex-spouse may try to exert unfair pressure to force you  to reach a settlement that favors them. For example, they might blackmail you or threaten you with violence. You will be able to reopen your case if you can prove that your ex-spouse got you to sign divorce papers under duress or undue influence.

Can You Go Back to Court After a Divorce is Final?

After a divorce is final, you may appeal the court’s decision. If you wish to appeal a court’s decision regarding your divorce, you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the entry of the final divorce decree.

When appealing a divorce decree, your attorney will prepare a brief, thoroughly explaining the reason for the appeal. They will also include any relevant case law, evidence, or documents that help your case.

Appellate courts do not consider any new evidence and base their decision only on evidence previously presented. At the end of your appeal, the court will either reverse the trial court’s decision, send the case back for a new trial, or affirm the trial court’s decision. 

Modifying a Divorce Settlement

Modifying a divorce settlement aims to alter only some part of the divorce decree. To obtain a modification, you need to show that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the entry of your divorce decree. 

For example, your initial divorce settlement set out a custody agreement. If, later on, you find out that your ex-spouse is being irresponsible or engaging in activities that endanger the children, you may seek a modification of the custody agreement outlined in the divorce settlement. 

Unlike appeals, modifications can occur any time after the final divorce decree has been entered.

Seeking Legal Help

Reopening, appealing, or modifying a divorce decree can be a challenging task. A knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney can assess your case and give you legal options. 

Ben Carrasco is a family law attorney based in Austin, Texas. He is a highly skilled attorney specializing in all aspects of child and family law. Mr. Carrasco is understanding and compassionate while fiercely advocating for his clients. Contact us today to discuss your case.

About the Author
Ben Carrasco is a highly skilled family law attorney based in Austin, Texas, known for his extensive expertise in family law and business litigation. While his primary focus is family law, Ben brings a wealth of experience in litigating diverse business disputes, ranging from breach of contract and collections to business torts, fraud, and real estate matters. In his family law practice, Ben navigates all aspects of the field, including divorce, child custody, support, property division, and more, offering clients expert guidance throughout the litigation process. His legal journey began in complex commercial litigation, initially with a global law firm and later with a prominent Austin-based firm. However, driven by a desire to make a direct impact on people's lives and embrace the human element of the law, Ben transitioned to family law, a decision that has proven to be deeply rewarding. A proud Austin native with roots in California, Ben completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, before earning his law degree at Stanford Law School, where he excelled in legal writing and served as an associate editor of the Stanford Law and Policy Review.