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Legal Issues to Look Out for After Your Divorce

HomeWellnessLegal Issues to Look Out for After Your Divorce

Throughout the process of your divorce, you will make many important decisions regarding the terms of your divorce agreement. You will address the division of assets and debts between you and your spouse, child support and spousal support, and parenting agreements involving responsibilities and visitation time, among other things. When the agreement is finalized, though you may be disappointed that your marriage has ended, you may also feel a sense of relief that the legal process is over, and you can start looking to the future.

You should absolutely appreciate this period of relative calm, but it is important that you do not completely let your guard down. In the years following your divorce, a number of legal issues may arise, and you will need to be prepared to address them for the sake of the continued well-being of you and your family. A Kane County divorce lawyer can work with you long after your divorce and help you handle these challenges with skill, knowledge, and experience.

Common Post-Divorce Legal Considerations

Whether you and your spouse come to a collaborative agreement, or the court issues an order on the terms of your divorce, the outcome is legally binding. As you move on from the divorce, you must take care to uphold the terms of the divorce decree or judgment, and you may need to legally modify them if your situation has changed significantly. Some items that usually require the services of an attorney include:

Child support modification: Child support obligations are usually determined based on each parent’s income at the time of the divorce and the cost of meeting the children’s primary needs. However, income can change significantly over time, and if the paying parent experiences a significant increase, the receiving parent may want to pursue a modification to ensure that payments are adjusted based on their greater means. On the other hand, a paying parent who loses a job or suffers a pay cut may wish to request a modification so that child support payments do not create an undue burden. Other grounds for adjusting child support payments include major increases in children’s expenses, perhaps due to necessary medical treatment. Parents may also need to address how they will each assist their child in the pursuit of a college education.

Parental relocation: After your divorce, you may find that your life or your children’s lives have changed to the extent that you need to modify your initial parenting plan. One big potential reason for a modification is a parent’s decision to move, or relocate, a significant distance away. This may result in a legal dispute between you and your ex that requires a court hearing to determine whether the move is in the children’s best interests. Even if both parents agree to the relocation, you will likely need to adjust your visitation schedule to ensure that both parents still have adequate time with the kids. This can mean planning for regular travel between locations, longer stretches of time spent with each parent, and including phone or video calls in parenting time so that your children can maintain their relationships with each parent even when they are far apart.

Contempt of court: It may sometimes be challenging for one or both parties to follow the terms of the divorce order or agreement, but it is important to remember that if you knowingly and intentionally violate it, you can be found in contempt of court. When this happens, the court will usually order you to remedy the violation, and if you fail to do so you may face more serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and modifications to your parenting plan. If your ex is repeatedly refusing to fulfill the agreement, such as by not paying child support or spousal support or failing to honor parenting time agreements, you may need assistance from an attorney to pursue enforcement of the original order.

Remarriage: You may be fortunate after your divorce to find someone new whom you wish to marry. This is often a cause for celebration, but you should also consider the changes it will bring for you, your children, and your ex. On a personal level, you will need to think about how to combine households with your new spouse, address relationships between your children and their new step-parent, and develop relationships with any step-children. From a legal perspective, the most significant impact of your remarriage may be on your spousal maintenance or alimony agreement. In some states, a person who remarries or cohabits with someone in a romantic relationship is no longer eligible to receive spousal support payments, but you may still be required to pay alimony to your former spouse after you remarry. If remarrying significantly increases your financial means, it also may be necessary to modify your child support order to reflect your new ability to contribute.

Step-parent adoption: Sometimes after a divorce and remarriage, you and your new partner may decide to pursue a step-parent adoption, in which your partner becomes a legal parent to your children from a prior relationship. This is most likely not possible if the children’s other biological parent maintains a custodial relationship. However, if the other parent is deceased, has been ruled an unfit parent, or voluntarily relinquishes parental rights, you may be able to proceed with the adoption. This can be a great way to formalize an already close relationship between a step-parent and step-child and ensure that you can continue to provide for their needs. An attorney can help you follow the appropriate procedures so that the adoption goes smoothly.

Whether you are facing a difficult dispute or a cooperative modification, chances are that you will need to address some legal matters even after your divorce. When you develop a good relationship with a St. Charles family law attorney, you will have a partner who can provide you with well-informed legal advice and representation whenever you need it. Perhaps even more importantly, you will have someone who understands your family’s history and needs and who can help you work toward the solutions that are best for your particular situation.

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