It’s finally done. After many months and negotiations that seemed endless, you have it: You’re newly signed divorce decree. It’s done. You’re finished and you are relieved that you can now move on with your life.
But can you? Is your final decree really final?
Back at it again
Life changes, circumstances change and with that, you can expect many parts of your divorce decree to need change as well. Whether its child custody or spousal maintenance, it’s not unusual to revisit previous agreements that may no longer be in the best interests of the parties involved.
For example, when your children are young, it is often easy to accommodate a shared parenting plan that is more or less split between both parents. But as your children get older, their schedules and activities will change. Preschoolers usually don’t have much in the way of sporting activities, dance lessons, or frequent play dates, and generally it is the parents’ wishes that dictate the arrangements.
But as the kids get older, their opinions and preferences start to shape their lives more and more. Whether it is basketball three times a week or spending time with a best friend that lives across town, suddenly parents find their time and their lives playing second string to the kids’.
What happens when your child wants more time?
Mom’s home might be closer to soccer and Dad’s home may be closer to an after-school job, so what happens when your child wants to spend more time—or move in—with the other parent?
Your divorce decree is still the defining document and if you want to strictly adhere to it, you can. But must you? Can you depart from it without going back to court?
If you and your ex can agree on the parameters, the short answer is yes. The court will not interfere in any changes you make unless and until one party asks the court to do so.
But should you?
Whether you chose to make verbal agreements with your ex is always a personal decision, but it is always a good idea to loop your attorney into the changes in case there is ever a dispute. Keeping texts, emails or notes of conversation and changes is also a good idea. Even in amicable situations, keeping records is always a wise move.
Recognizing that life is ever-changing, and that your divorce decree is also, helps relieve some of the pressure going forward: You can and should be ready to accommodate new and dynamic events as you create your new and dynamic future.