Post-Decree Motions: When The Divorce Is Over But The Legal Issues Aren't

If you've been going through a bitterly-fought divorce, you probably thought that the final decree was the end to your problems and a chance to move on with your life. Unfortunately, post-decree motions can drag you right back into the fray all over again. Unlike marriage, it only takes one person to start the ball rolling. What issues are likely to end up back in court? Is there anything you can do to stop it from happening?

Support Payments And Issues Involving Children Are Common

Probably the two biggest issues that pull couples back into court are money matters and issues related to the children. While your divorce is final, issues like alimony and child support can be reopened as many times as necessary. You can expect the post-divorce motions to start for a number of reasons:

  • You have a boost in income and your ex-spouse is seeking more alimony or child support.
  • Your ex-spouse has a decrease in income and is seeking more support.
  • Your children enter private school or college and your ex-spouse wants you to pay for all or part of the tuition.
  • Your ex-spouse wants a change in custody or visitation rights.
  • Your ex-spouse wants to move out of the area with the children.

The court that heard your divorce usually retains jurisdiction over these issues indefinitely. Normally, that means that the same judge will hear your case as before.

Newly Discovered Issues Can Also Result In Post-Decree Motions

Old information that's newly discovered can also land you back in court—if that information might have had any significant effect on your divorce settlement if had been known at the time. For example, if your ex-spouse discovers that you hid any type of assets or finds out that you hid an affair and used family funds to support your other partner, that could be enough to get the court to re-examine the distribution of your assets. You may be required to turn over a little more of your share to your ex-spouse to make up for whatever they were shortchanged.

Take Steps To Avoid The Hassle 

If you ex-spouse is determined to drag the issue into court, there's only so much you can do, but a proactive approach can help:

  • Participate completely in any interrogatories or depositions and don't attempt to hide any assets you saved or expenses you incurred during the divorce.
  • If you have a change in income or your spouse approaches you about a change in support, try to give the proposal a fair hearing. Consider whether or not the time and expense of fighting the issue in court are ultimately going to cost as much or more than just agreeing to the change.
  • Consider asking the court for a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem acts as a representative for your children before the court. While some people resist this idea, if you and your ex-spouse are at odds over the children's needs, this can give the court a third perspective that's unbiased.

For more information about what post-decree motions could be involved in your case, talk to your attorney or Lisa J Kleinberg today.