Since opening my practice in September 2013, I have met with many people who are unhappy with the terms of the divorce that they negotiated themselves or because they feel they used the wrong attorney to represent them for their divorce. Many of these clients have very convincing emotional arguments as to why it is unfair for them to have to abide by the terms of the divorce decree. Unfortunately, the Court, in most cases, could care less whether these clients feel their divorce decree is fair, or whether they are upset about the terms of the divorce or the way in which it was decided.
A divorce decree can only be modified if a substantial change in circumstances occurs after the divorce decree is entered and if the change was not contemplated by the divorce decree. While there are a few exceptions to this rule, in most cases a person must wait for that change in circumstances even if they are unhappy with the terms of their divorce decree. However, even when there has been a substantial change in circumstances, often the modification is limited to a few of the terms of the decree, and the person seeking the modification will have much less negotiating power because of the limited scope of the modification proceeding. Not to mention, modifying a decree can cost as much as the original divorce.
So here are a few tips for ensuring you are happy with your decree of divorce into the future:
- Never Negotiate Your Own Decree
- Research multiple attorneys before hiring one
- Keep your attorney informed as to your goals, needs, and expectations.
- Perform a personal financial review and figure out exactly what you need to live (including any possible future expenses) before settling your divorce.
- If necessary, or helpful, get counseling for emotional and mental issues early in your divorce to avoid adverse effects.
If you have children, your divorce decree will govern your relationship with your ex and your children until all of your children have turned 18. The best way to ensure your decree of divorce serves your needs and protects your interests into the future is to hire an attorney who will help you reach your goals in the divorce and who understands the terms that need to be in place to protect you in the future.
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