There are a lot of people out there who think-or perhaps hope-that once you go through a divorce and obtain a divorce decree, that you can just walk away. But, for many people in the post-divorce phases of their lives, that’s not necessarily the case.
While you don’t have to live your life with your divorce decree in the top of your desk drawer, you do have to be aware of what it requires you to do.
If you and your ex-spouse don’t have children together, but your decree provides for some sort of financial obligation, you have to hold to those parameters for as long as the decree is in effect. A provision for spousal support, for instance, would oblige one ex-spouse to pay the other a specific amount for a specific period of time. Other provisions might be more reliant on a specific event rather than a specific time frame-for example, putting a shared asset like a vacation home up for sale and splitting the profits upon the sale finalizing.
If you and your ex-spouse do have children together, the decree will definitely impact each of your lives until some specified event, such as each child turning 18 or finishing secondary school. It’s particularly important in these cases to make the court aware of changes, as modifications might be required based on those changes.
Most divorcing couples will still plan to live within 100 miles of one another, and often, there’s even a provision put into the decree designating the counties in which the parent with primary custody can live. Usually the parenting time provisions for parents who live more than 100 miles apart differ from parents who live within that 100-mile range. If one parent moves for a job, for example, that would definitely necessitate the consideration of modification.
One or both parents’ job statuses and monthly wages may also change as the children grow older-Abrupt changes like loss of employment might require immediate action even if it happens shortly after a more routine modification. But it’s incumbent upon parents to notify the courts and each other of such changes-a parent obligated to pay child support can’t simply choose not to pay it if he or she no longer has the ability to do so. The court must make that determination.
One thing I advise clients to do as they’re preparing for divorce is to factor in any documents they might have prepared with a probate lawyer. Wills, power of attorney forms, and medical power of attorney forms typically need to be changed to reflect a person’s post-divorce wishes. There are also pensions and retirement plans, annuities, stocks, and life insurance to factor in-those may list a soon-to-be-ex-spouse as a beneficiary, and failing to reconcile that as part of the divorce process could lead to legal battles later.
The more you plan and discuss your post-divorce life with a family lawyer, the better prepared you’ll be to make the transition to post-divorce life. At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we can help you factor in what you’ve thought about, and what you may have not thought about, to get you moving past your divorce.