What Happens Post-Divorce
Post–Divorce Issues: Termination of Alimony, Child Support & Custody Modification. Reviewing Alimony & Child Support, Changing Custody, Parenting Time & Strategies. High–Conflict Families. Let It End with a Judgment of Divorce. Self–Determination & Living Documents. Grief Cycle of Divorce. Acceptance Vs. Re–Doing. Post–Divorce Litigation. Financial Discovery. Compromise & Return to Court. Avoid Conflicts & Return to Court Post–Divorce.
The three most vigorously addressed post-divorce issues:
Termination of alimony, modification of child support, and modification of custody and parenting time.
Entry of a judgment of divorce should relieve you of the stress of the divorce process. Many will celebrate with a divorce party, a vacation, or make a life change such as losing weight, joining a gym, or changing their hair. If you allow yourself to end the divorce and move on with your life, those rituals will prove very productive and valuable.
If you do not, you can continue to fight, post-divorce. Reviewing alimony and child support, changing custody, parenting time, and parenting strategies are all part of the post-divorce fun. If you return to court following a divorce, you begin to fall into the class of divorcers known as the high-conflict families.
Let It End
When you resolve your case either by settlement or trial, a judgment of divorce and/or an agreement will spell out the terms of the divorce. There is no level of specificity your divorce judgment can provide that can anticipate every possible change in circumstances. Child custody and parenting time will always be based upon the best interests of the children. Child support is designed to permit the children to enjoy the benefits of both parent’s lifestyle. Alimony is always in play. The alimony payor will lose sleep each night believing that the former spouse is out gallivanting on his dime with her new boyfriend or the child support he pays is being used to wine and dine a well-built, tan surfer dude while he slaves to make his support payments.
Self-determination does not end with the drafting of your settlement agreement. The settlement agreement is a living document. You should see it as a roadmap for peaceful co-existence between mom, dad, and children. It provides for financial issues and for raising children in a reasonable post-separation or divorce environment.
It is my observation that divorcers go through a cycle of grief similar to that of mourning the death of a family member — after all, it is the death of the marriage. The phases of grief are broadly characterized as shock, disbelief or denial, anger, and eventually acceptance. The divorce process itself works most efficiently when the divorcers start the divorce process at or near their entry into the acceptance phase.
Acceptance Versus Re-doing
Many of the tens of millions of divorced people never reach the acceptance phase. This lack of acceptance may lay dormant for years. When people feel that the agreement or judgment is not being followed by the other side or the circumstances, which were existent or were believed to be existent at the time of the divorce are no longer in place, divorcers are apt to want to fight again.
Judges do not want to re-do your divorce. Interpersonal conflict may be remedied and addressed in another forum. The post-divorce litigation forum, however, is a popular field of battle.
Back In the Game
If you have children, post-divorce issues will arise. The issue of custody, parenting time, and rearing your children is the subject of scrutiny by the courts at any time. Whether true or not, your ex-spouse can file an application with the court and allege that there are problems at your home that adversely impact your children, and request that the court transfer custody. Courts do not transfer custody on the basis of mere allegations. There must be some proof.
When either alimony or child support are modified pursuant to a post-divorce change in circumstances, a new round of financial discovery is typically permitted. If you fight, you will be forced into a similar cycle of dispute and expenditure of legal fees and costs that you endured during the divorce process.
A substantial problem exists when one party, post-divorce, has substantial funds while the other is merely making ends meet. The person with the money always has the ability to return to court to fight the issues out. The person without the money is forced to compromise. This may mean compromising by reducing alimony, reducing child support, or modifying parenting time in the favor of the person with the money. It may not be fair, it may not right, but it is reality. Post-divorce, do everything you can to avoid conflicts, returning to your lawyer’s office, and returning to court.
Thanks to Horn Law Group, LLC intern Noah Hilsdorf.