After you sign the final divorce papers, you may feel free. You may think that you’ll never have to step into a courtroom or attorney’s office again to deal with your ex.
But I wouldn’t delete your lawyer’s number out of your phone just yet.
As your family or financial situation changes, your children grow, or you find a new spouse, you may find yourself adjusting past legal decisions or filing new proceedings. There are a number of different times when you might need to call a family lawyer again to revisit things that were “decided” in your original divorce proceedings:
- Modifying Child Support Payments – It is suggested that in the first few months after your divorce is finalized, you continue to update your family lawyer on the expenses for your children. With more accurate numbers, your lawyer may be able to better advise you on whether or not you should be asking for more child support.
If you do want to change child support payments, your attorney will be able to help you file a Petition for the Modification of Child Support and represent you in court.
- If You Want to Change Time Sharing Arrangements – Your original parenting plan or time sharing arrangement may not have worked out the way you and your spouse imagined. Distance, disagreements, or changes in employment or living may lead you and your ex to come up with alternative arrangements regarding time sharing and parental responsibilities.
To modify this arrangement, you will have to file a Petition to Modify Parental Responsibility.
- Modifying Alimony Payments – The same process applies to modifying or terminating alimony payments. You will have to file the Petition for Modification of Alimony. You will not have to file this petition if the party receiving alimony gets legally married. Alimony payments will automatically end when a spouse remarries.
Cohabitation, when the party receiving alimony moves in with his or her significant other, will not automatically end alimony payments, but will be considered by a judge if the proper paperwork to terminate alimony is filed.
**A Quick Note about Modifying or Terminating the Above Obligations: These petitions can be filed by either party and they need to be turned in to the appropriate notary public or deputy clerk for proceedings to begin. You will most likely have to appear in court at least once for any of the above modifications.
- If Your Ex Is Not Paying Child Support – Child support issues are one of the most frustrating post-divorce matters. If you are not receiving the payments you need to properly provide for your child, it can cause immense tension between you, your children, and your ex. Florida law will penalize an individual who is not paying the child support that he or she was ruled to pay.
- Adoption – If you decide to remarry someone who has children, you may want to look at adopting your spouse’s children and taking on parental responsibilities and rights. Likewise, if you have kids from a previous relationship, he or she may wish to adopt your children.
To begin the adoption process, you will need to file the proper stepparent adoption petitions, but you may also need written consent from the other parent of your spouse’s children. A family lawyer can help you if this process does not go smoothly.
- Credit Protection – While your assets are divided in divorce proceedings, your debts may also be divided too. Luckily, there are ways to keep track of whether or not debts are being paid. If your ex is not paying his or her debts on time, you and your lawyer can take action and seek a civil judgment, penalizing your ex for when he or she does not pay on time. This will protect your credit in the future.
- Estate Planning and Assets – Of all the documents you had to file or change after your divorce, did you remember your will? Your ex may still be included in your will, and it might be a good idea to consult with estate planning lawyer if you would rather have a child or a loved one receive certain assets or take on certain financial responsibilities.
- Miscellaneous Post-Divorce Litigation – Divorce and remarriage both have the ability to flip your financial situation on its head. Whether you are figuring out how your taxes will look in the upcoming year or moving around assets to cover any debts from your divorce, your lawyer will be able to guide you through the next few years into financial security.
Your relationship with your ex may be over, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be working with your family lawyers again in the future. When you run into any legal or financial issues resulting from your divorce or changes to your family, keep the Florida Family Law Clinic in mind.