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Get back on track in the New Year

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If you're looking to improve, New Year's Day provides a great opportunity. The psychological boost that the new year brings with it can motivate people to start doing the things they know they should, and to stop doing the things they know they shouldn't keep doing.

It's also a good time to get back on track if you've let something go during the holidays. Toward the end of the year, it can be easy to get sidetracked by all the things on a holiday to-do list and let certain things go until the end of the year. This can include getting on track with a divorce or with child support.

If you're in the early stages of a divorce, one of the most important things to do is to gather financial documents to give your lawyer and the courts a complete sense of your finances. It can be very involved, and it can be a very overwhelming project. It's certainly not the most fun thing you could do. But it's vitally important to the divorce process, and it's far more expensive for your legal team to get it together than it is for you to do the homework and do it yourself. It's definitely one of those situations where "the only way out is through."

If you're in the midst of a divorce, or nearing the end, it's natural to want to put things on pause during the holidays. If you have children, especially, it's better to use the holidays to focus on them and their holiday experience, rather than to get into divorce negotiations.

But once the new year arrives, it's a good time to figure out what elements are holding the divorce up and to try to reconcile them. If you're waiting on a court date, but think you, your spouse, and your lawyers might be able to settle it yourselves, it's certainly worth a try. Negotiating a settlement will be less expensive than fighting it out in court, and you have more control over the outcome than you do if you leave it up to a judge to determine your settlement.

If you find yourself behind in child support, you should know that you're having to pay 6 percent interest on what you owe, and it gets calculated each month based on what you owe. The state can also garnish it from your wages if they determine you're not paying it and you have money coming to you.

If you've run into a hardship, such as losing a job or getting less hours in a part-time job, it's best that you contact the Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division and let them know. Until your court order is modified, you're still on the hook for what it says you owe. Once you contact the OAG's office and let them know what's going on, you can request a review of your child support obligations, and can start the process of modifying them to better reflect your circumstances. This page can tell you more about what to do.

Of course, if you don't succeed with the fresh start you try to make in the new year, there's nothing to stop you from trying again. We take the same attitude toward self-improvement than we do to divorce - if you do it with a goal in mind and keep your focus on that, you'll know that you're working toward making your life better. 

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