Signing your divorce decree can bring a major sense of relief; however, there may be additional work further down the road. From QDROs to modifications, After Divorce offers tips and info on many of the common issues that men face once a divorce is finalized.
Even after a divorce is finalized, you are not necessarily completely out of the woods — there are many issues that can be revisited later to account for circumstances that change or other problems that arise.
The After Divorce section covers many of the common post-divorce issues, such as qualified domestic relations orders, custody and alimony modifications, adjusting custody or visitation, contempt of court and more.
One of the most important — and sometimes overlooked — documents after a divorce has been finalized is the Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which instructs retirement plan administrators on how to divide retirement accounts based on the conditions laid forth in the settlement agreement.
This document is essential because retirement plan administrators are prohibited from paying out benefits to anyone other than the employee without the court order. Additionally, the QDRO must be carefully drafted by a qualified attorney to avoid any unnecessary fees or penalties that would be associated with early withdrawal of funds from the account.
Once a custody and visitation order is established by the court, the terms of the agreement must be followed. However, it is understood that circumstances may change over the years, which is why custody or child support agreements can be modified later if you meet certain criteria set out by your state.
For example, if you have a child support obligation and are laid off from your job, you would need to file a petition to modify the amount since your income has changed significantly from when the original order was issued. Similarly, if your ex is issued primary physical custody but a situation arises which makes that an unsafe living arrangement, you could file to modify custody and attempt to prove it is in the best interests of your children.
Modifying an alimony award is often similar to modifying child support in that you must typically petition the court and prove there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original order was issued. If you are no longer able to keep up with your alimony payments, you must attempt to prove to the courts that the current award is unreasonable.
Terminating the obligation can be even more of a challenge. Unless you have language built into your settlement that spells out the reasons to end an alimony obligations, such as co-habitation, remarriage or retirement, the statutes regarding these matters are often fairly vague in many states. This stresses the importance of including detailed and specific phrasing in your original decree to avoid ambiguity down the road.
During and after divorce, contempt of court typically refers to knowingly and willfully disobeying a court order. This can range from not paying child support or alimony to refusing to turn over children for court-ordered visitation, though you can be found in contempt of any order issued by the court that you do not follow.
Penalties for being found in contempt will vary depending on the severity of the issue at hand, though they can include fines, covering attorney fees or even jail time. It should be noted that while contempt is often thought of as a punishment for failure to abide by the court’s order, it is designed more to compel the violating party into compliance. However, severe or continuing infractions may be a basis for modifying the order.
Divorce is a strenuous process, and even after you have a signed and finalized decree in your hands, it does not mean you are completely immune to landing into trouble. There are many mistakes guys make after divorce — both legally and in their personal lives — that can have create unnecessary stress.
These include not following court orders, failing to update benefits and estate information, jumping into a rebound relationship too quickly or developing unhealthy habits. Realizing the inherent vulnerability that comes with being recently divorced can help you avoid many of these common mistakes guys make after their divorce has been finalized.