Can parts of a separation agreement be changed with just caused after 5 years of divorce?
Question Details: I have been divorce in NC for over 5 years. I have 3 children, ages, 21, 18, 16 with joint custody on the youngest. In the separation agreement that I signed, under emotional distress after being married 21 years of emotional abuse, it was stated I would pay 1/2 of my children's college expenses and would not live with anyone of the opposite sex while I still have my underage children in my home. I am working 2 jobs, struggling to keep my house and my youngest to stay in the school she wants to attend. She cannot go to the school under her father's address. If I want to continue for her to graduate in 2 years, I need to have my current boyfriend of over a year move in to help with expenses. Can I ask the court to change this in the agreement and also the paying 1/2 of college expenses of 3 children since I cannot afford it?
No, unfortunately you will not be able to change an agreement you voluntarily entered into for "just cause." (And note: "emotional distress" does not invalidate the agreement--people sign all sorts of agreements under emotional distress or tough circumstances all the time, and the law does not consider the fact that you were under emotional stress to make the agreement not voluntary.)
People have changes in circumstances, life reversals, economic stress, etc. all the time. The law does not consider your personal circumstances or needs valid grounds to change or terminate an agreement, because if it did, contracts would not be binding: they could be changed whenever one of the parties needed a change. People could not count on the agreements they entered into, since the other side could change them whenever they showed a need to do so. However, the whole point of a contract--including a separation agreement, since that is what it is: a contract--is that they are binding on the parties to them regardless of what happens in each parties' life or each parties' respective economic situation. An agreement, including a separation agreement, is binding even if it imposes hardship on you.