Q: How I amend my separation agreement? Can I file in a different Virginia county? Must I have a lawyer?
I finalized divorce in 2013 in Bath County VA. My circumstances have changed and I must amend this agreement. Doubtful my ex wife will go along willingly. I live in Bedford, VA now. Where would I file? Can I file by myself?
A: A: Bath County, and Yes. Explanation: First - issues related to child support remain subject to the jurisdiction of the court irrespective of any agreement between the parties. To obtain a change in such a order, you must show a "material change of circumstances." And the court will only modify the order back to the date your petition was filed with the court. Now with respect to other matters, if you have a "separation agreement" then you presumably entered a legally binding contract which was probably incorporated into the final decree. Unless the agreement provides for modification in the event of a change of circumstances, you may be stuck. On the other hand, should you fail to abide by the terms of the agreement, you may be able to convince the court that your failure is not on purpose and that you should not be held in contempt of the court order which incorporated the agreement into the divorce decree. Finally, if you are confused, and you do not actually have a "separation agreement" then you may file with the same court seeking a change in the court ordered spousal support. You probably have to file in Bath County - see § 20-88.39 Continuing, exclusive jurisdiction to modify child support order. A person always has the right to represent himself.
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