Unfortunately, the Final Decree in a divorce is oftentimes not the final step in your divorce. Circumstances change as time goes on and a plan that once seemed fair and workable is outdated. Children grow and their needs change which may necessitate an updated parenting plan. Loss of a job or a disability may justify a change to a child support or alimony award. An ex-spouse may not be honoring his or her obligations under the Final Decree and court action is required. These are just a few examples of common post-divorce issues where attorney assistance is needed.
It is important to remember a Final Decree is a court order. There is a duty to obey it unless and until it is changed by the court. Thus, even if a Final Decree no longer fits the reality of your life, it is generally a bad idea to take matters into your own hands and simply do what you think is appropriate. It is still a bad idea even if your ex-spouse agrees with the adjustments because opinions and feelings change over time. You may find yourself fighting a motion for contempt if your ex has a change of heart later. The better course is to have your divorce attorney petition the court for a modification. Even if the modification is agreed upon, the court must approve the modification before the new obligations become legally enforceable. Court approval is especially vital when dealing with child support and visitation issues because an agreement between the parties may not comply with their duty of support under the law. The court will require the parties to correct any deficiencies before it enters a new order.