Finalizing a divorce does not mean that everything is finished; there are often residual matters that require attention. Child custody, visitation, distribution of retirement and investment accounts, bill payments, transferring ownership of property and enforcing the payment of child and spousal support are often part of your post-divorce life.
Even the most carefully drafted agreement may not be applicable or work for you in the future due to changes in your life or that of your former spouse. Life changes including relocation, new jobs or loss of employment, retirement, and other factors may render your post-divorce agreements unworkable years later, requiring modification.
Perhaps your former spouse has suddenly stopped complying with his or her side of the agreement. Maybe you’re not getting the support payments you were awarded, or the other party is not paying the obligations to which they agreed. Perhaps, the custodial parent is changing the visitation schedule without your agreement and preventing you from seeing your children. Or if you have custody, is the other parent asking for changes or failing to show for scheduled visitation? Are there circumstances that make the current visitation/parenting time schedule an impossibility?
For these kinds of issues, you may need to seek a modification of your court order.
These are any updates to the current provision of your divorce decree and/or separation agreement, and can include:
Custody and Visitation changes as a result of Relocation
It’s not uncommon for most people to change jobs more than once, especially after a layoff or other adverse employment event (such as a company merger, downsizing or department closure.) While Virginia has a thriving economy, you or your spouse may be required to relocate for a company transfer or new job. Where does that leave your visitation schedule?
If an employment-related relocation takes you or your former spouse farther apart geographically, you’ll need to discuss these changes with him or her. Once you agree on a new plan for visitation, you must file a motion to have your visitation and custody schedule updated. If there is no agreement to amend the schedule, the court will have to make that determination.
Only a judge can make formal changes in a custody order. The court will modify an order, upon the filing of a motion to amend, if there is a material change in circumstances that requires an update. Judges ultimately consider what’s in the best interest of the child.
Reduction In Payments
Another scenario is a reduction in one parent’s income. Employment changes, layoffs, accidents and disabilities are just some of the things that can cause a parent to become delinquent on child and spousal support as well as other financial obligations. If you are paying support, your obligation to pay support doesn’t automatically change because you are temporarily unable to pay. Without a court modifying your court order, you could find yourself thousands of dollars in arrears for back child or spousal support.
Fortunately, you can return to court to request a modification of your order to accommodate your change of income based on your retirement or other circumstances. Similarly, if there is an increase in either party’s income, a motion to amend can be filed to increase or decrease the award of spousal support or child support.
Chances are that one day you or your former spouse will marry again. Remarriage and cohabitation bring questions that you may need help answering. If you’re the noncustodial parent, you may wonder if your visitations will change or be drastically reduced, or have other questions about the arrangements for your children. If the remarriage has a significant effect on access to your children, you may decide to request enforcement of your visitation schedule or request a change that can accommodate your former spouse’s circumstances.
Remarriage and cohabitation also have a significant impact on spousal support. If you are receiving spousal support, it will end upon your remarriage. Cohabitation can also have severe consequences on the length of spousal support. If these situations are applicable to you, you need the help of an experienced Virginia family law attorney immediately.
While finalizing your divorce may be a great relief, it may not be complete, especially if you have children in common. If your former spouse is not cooperating with the divorce decree, failing to follow his or her obligations for support, or causing problems with court-ordered schedules, get help from a family law firm that is ready to help.
For nearly 10 years, Hope Hutchinson has been helping families through difficult times and protecting their rights, as well as those of their children. Call today to schedule your consultation at (757) 367-8888 or contact us online.