Important Things to Revisit or Update after Your Divorce is Final
- Changing divorce agreement terms
- Things you can change after divorce
- Within 1 month after your divorce
- About 6 months after divorce
- After a major life event
- Getting help
After the emotional ordeal of a divorce, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief and move on with the rest of your life. But life is about change, and you will continue to grow and change after your divorce. Revisiting issues post-divorce can help you navigate life's changes and keep your divorce agreement consistent with those changes.
Can I change the terms in my divorce agreement post-divorce?
When divorcing spouses are working out their divorce agreement, it’s difficult to know what the future will hold. Will one spouse need to relocate for a job? Will the children have educational or health needs that impact their need for child support? How will the family be affected if one spouse remarries and has more children?
In all these cases, the current terms of a divorce could be affected. Fortunately, if this happens to you, you may be able to modify these terms even after you have received your final divorce decree.
Things to revisit, review, or modify after your divorce
As life evolves post-divorce, some of the terms of your divorce agreement may be reconsidered and changed. If you and your former spouse agree to the changes, the new terms can be drawn up and presented to the court for approval.
If both ex-spouses cannot agree to those changes, however, the decision will ultimately be made by the court. Not all requests for change will be granted. Many family courts won’t consider a modification unless there have been significant and permanent changes that impact the ability of one or both people to comply with the agreement.
Child custody, visitation, or parenting timeshares
Is child custody and parenting time still working for you? One of the most common requests for changes to a divorce agreement involves child custody.
The court may consider a modification to custody and visitation when:
- One parent needs to relocate
- One parent isn’t fulfilling their custody obligations
- A child’s needs have changed, and one parent is better suited to provide for them
- One parent’s situation has changed, and they can’t fulfill their custody obligations
- A child is in danger
If both parents agree to a change in custody, the court will typically agree – unless there is a conflict with the laws or policies of the state. But because family courts always prioritize the children in these matters, they may be reluctant to change a parenting plan unless there is a significant need and the modification is consistent with the child’s best interests.
Child support also may need to be revisited over time. A modification in child support can be requested when there has been a substantial change in circumstances, including:
- A significant change in one parent’s income
- A custody change
- A change in the number of children being supported
- Additional medical or educational needs for the child
The easiest way to change child support is for both parents to come to a new agreement. The request can then go before the court for consideration. However, like matters of custody, the court will always prioritize the best interest of the child. So, even if you come to a new support figure with your ex, the judge does not have to accept it, especially if the figure is significantly lower than state guidelines.
Spousal support or alimony
Alimony or spousal support may have been awarded to you or your spouse based on your circumstances and need, and any modifications available will depend on the state.
In some states, modifications to alimony may be allowed if there has been a significant change in your physical or financial circumstances. In some cases, spousal support or alimony can be modified if the receiving spouse has a change in marital status that provides them with financial support. In many other states, however, spousal support cannot be modified at all.
Asset or debts you delayed division or sale on
All states have property division laws that affect the way marital property is distributed during a divorce. In most cases, this division can’t be changed once the divorce becomes final.
But if you find that property and assets were not disclosed by your spouse during the divorce process, you can ask the court to reopen the case and revisit the distribution considering the newly discovered assets. You may also request an appeal if you think property division decisions were made in error.
Things to revisit or update after divorce by time period
You’ve wrapped up your official divorce, and now it’s time to focus on moving forward. But this is a time to treat yourself kindly and to move slowly. Divorce can be a traumatic time, and everyone deals with it in their own way. Where you were once part of a couple, you are now a single individual. This affects you not only emotionally but also financially.
Within 1 month of your divorce
As soon as possible after your divorce, there are some important housekeeping matters to tend to.
- You will need to update your mailing address with the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security, bank, credit card companies, insurance companies, and any other places where you have important paperwork.
- If you initiated a name change during the divorce, you’ll have to change it with Social Security and on your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, and bank accounts.
- You will also need to update information with the post office, your children’s school, and your employer. This includes information about your new tax status.
- If you haven’t done so yet, it’s critical to close all joint accounts. Open bank accounts and credit cards in your own name to make sure you aren’t responsible for any post-divorce purchases made or debts accumulated on joint accounts. This includes any other payment apps like Venmo or Paypal.
- You will also want to change any login information and passwords you used while married.
Every 6 months to a year after your divorce
After a little time goes by, take note of these important to-dos:
- Periodically check your credit report to make sure you haven’t been hit by any post-divorce debts that aren’t yours.
- Create a budget, and revisit it annually or semi-annually. This can help you keep control of your financial life.
You will also want to revisit your emotional life. The first year of divorce can be a challenging time. How are you doing? Where are you struggling? Have you been able to create a supportive social network? Revisiting your emotional life periodically lets you understand where you are, appreciate how far you’ve come, and consider what you may need for your mental and emotional health and growth going forward.
After a major life event
Many life events can affect the terms of your divorce. These can include:
- The birth of new children
- Health issues or disabilities
- Major financial changes
- Children who have aged into adults
In each case, consider how the event may affect the terms of your divorce, and make changes to the agreement as necessary.
You’ll also want to revisit your estate plan and make all necessary changes to your will, living will, powers of attorney, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and IRAs to make sure your heirs and beneficiaries are updated.
Getting the help of professionals
Divorce and its challenges and changes can put you on an emotional and financial roller coaster. Just when you think you’ve regained some stability, things can change. But you don’t have to do this alone.
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