After a divorce is completed you feel a range of emotions, both positive and negative. It is normal to feel some combination of grief, sadness, loss, and disappointment. It is just as common to feel relief and a sense of freedom. You have just completed an extremely complex emotional, legal and financial struggle. The divorce is over. Now what do you do?
Just because the divorce is over doesn’t mean that you can completely relax and ignore the legal side of divorce. If you have children there are post-divorce issues that must be addressed on a regular basis.
Paying Child Support
If you were ordered to pay child support you need to make sure it gets paid.
Most divorces that have child support involved end up with a withholding order. This is an order to your employer telling them that they are to deduct a certain amount from your wages and send it to the State for child support. If this is in place and you are at the same job you shouldn’t have a problem as the money will come straight from your check. There are some problems that come up though:
1. The time period between entry of the divorce and your employer starting withholding. Just because there is a withholding order doesn’t mean that it will start coming out of your check immediately. There is often a lag or gap between entry of the divorce decree and the first withholding. If you are ordered to pay child support you are required to take care of the payment during that gap. If you miss that payment it will be counted as an arrears and interest will start building on it. One payment may not sound like much but 10 years of interest can destroy you.
2. What if you change jobs? If you change jobs you have to inform your new employer of the withholding order. It is your responsibility to make sure the flow of child support doesn’t stop just because you switched jobs.
3. If your income drops dramatically you must go back to court to get the amount reduced to reflect your new income. Waiting for months or years will only set you up with an insurmountable back pay amount.
4. Informal payments don’t count against your monthly support amount. This means that if you give your child or your ex cash it will be considered a gift and not child support.
If you are supposed to be receiving child support you also need to stay on top of when the payments are made and if they are made.If you allow your ex to go for years not paying without a complaint you may find the courts less likely to be supportive of your complaints.
If you ex starts making more you have to go back to court to get an increase. The opposite is true.
After the divorce is finalized you should end up with a written decree of divorce that should address who has custody of your children and when.
Follow the schedule absent agreement. If you have a written schedule you can generally agree to change the schedule with your ex but you cannot make changes without agreement. In other words if you want to switch weekends and they agree, great! If they don’t agree and you refuse to turn over the child according to the order you are in violation of the orders.
Finalizing a divorce allows you to move on with many parts of your life but it is important to remember that if you have children with your ex you can never fully be free of them because your children need that connection.