After a divorce, changes in the lives of the ex-spouses may lead to the need for post-decree adjustments. While some issues are modifiable, there are other issues included in a divorce decree which cannot be changed once the case is finalized. Here are 3 things to know about a post-decree divorce action:
1. A modification may be necessary if an ex-spouse’s job status changes, such as a job loss, pay raise, or disability. Another reason for a modification is a change in the child's needs. "From a financial standpoint, assets cannot be redistributed after a divorce is finalized," explained Erin Webster O'Brien, family law attorney. "There may also be enforcement issues in the divorce judgment terms, such as one person failing to refinance the home mortgage and pay the other person his or her portion of the equity as previously ordered."
2. Parenting time and decision-making terms are also modifiable, but such modifications must meet certain standards. "A change may be necessary if a parenting schedule was initially created when the child was very young, and may no longer be practical once the child attends school full-time," added O'Brien. "If one parent moves farther away, the schedule may need to be modified to reflect the change in distance. Allocation of college expenses is another issue, since the chosen school, tuition amount, and other factors are unknown at the time of the divorce."
3. State laws in Illinois are strict when it comes to filing post-decree paperwork. "Certain standards of proof are required for these situations, and as an attorney, I can ensure the proper steps are taken and the burden of proof is met," said O'Brien. "I encourage people to consult an attorney before attempting to undertake post-decree adjustments, because even the simplest mistakes can land them back in court."
For more information about post-decree divorce actions, please contact:
Erin Webster O'Brien, Attorney
President, Will County Bar Association