A contract is a legally binding agreement that outlines the duties and benefits of two or more parties. They can either be written or oral, and they are amenable to modifications.
Modification has the same meaning in law as it does in everyday use of the word. A modification generally applies to a contract change, in part or whole, in a legally binding agreement between two or more parties.
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Both parties must consent to any modification done on the agreement and modification can be done on any contract before or after the contract is signed. If one party disagrees, then the contract modification becomes invalid. Modifications need to be validated and enforced; they are binding according to contract laws.
Reasons for Contract Modifications
Parties to a contract typically modify an agreement when a significant development occurs. The change is sometimes more important than the first contract. Some of the reasons for modifying a contract include;
- Extending the contract duration
- Altering payment or delivery conditions
- Changing or removing any goods in a contract
- Increasing or reducing the quantity of items in a contract
- Expanding the contract
- Statutory requirement, i.e. from a judge
A contract can be modified at any point in time, considering that all parties agree to the changes. If the changes are minor, a handwritten modification signed by all parties or initialled into the original document typically suffices. Significant changes to an agreement will need to be re-negotiated and, in most cases, will need to be reprinted and signed.
No party can deprive themselves of altering or terminating a written or oral contract, the parties can modify the contract any way they choose. This means that a contract clause that necessitates written modifications will not always be enforced. It can only be implemented if both parties depend on oral modification in carrying out the contract.
Modifications in Child and Spousal Support
In circumstances when a spouse who either is on the receiving or paying end can decide to change the support system. These modifications can stem from a spouse’s employment, health, location or financial status. Generally, before the court allows a change to spouse support payments there needs to be tangible proof.
Spouses can modify their agreement, but both spouses will need to agree on the terms. If there’s a disagreement to either reducing the spousal support or increasing the spousal support, then a court application becomes necessary.
Modifications are explicitly allowed only when significant life changes happen such as:
- A new job with higher pay or a loss of job
- If one spouse remarries
- Time-sharing plans are altered
- Medical costs becoming more expensive for a child or a parent paying child support
- Relocation of one spouse
Some states do not allow modifications to spousal support at all. Sometimes the court will order a temporary modification just for the period of changed circumstances.
For child support payments, both parties must agree to the modification and must be in the best interest of the child and fair to both parties. Modifications can be made only when there’s a significant change as in the case of spousal support.