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Hanover Post-divorce Disputes Lawyers
You divorced your ex to end the marital conflicts, but just when you think the problems are behind you, an issue arises that leaves you wondering if the conflict will ever end. Perhaps your former spouse is not paying child support, is not abiding by the custody schedule, or you were to receive certain marital property but it has not yet been transferred to you.
There are several ways to address these conflicts in Massachusetts, including enforcement actions, complaints for contempt of court, modifications, and even requesting jail time for a non-compliant party. A Hanover post-divorce disputes lawyer can help you minimize the economic and legal impact of these arguments. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our attorneys at O’Connor Family Law can assess your conflict and determine what strategy best fits your desired outcome.
Types of Post-divorce Conflicts
Even the most comprehensive divorce decree might not prevent problems from arising after a marriage ends due to unforeseen changes in circumstances or just things that need to be adjusted as time goes by. As such, there are certain areas where post-divorce disputes may occur that an attorney in Hanover can help resolve.
When your ex was ordered to pay you spousal support but is not making the payments on time, this could cause conflict between you two. Alternatively, disputes may occur if you were required to pay monthly support but you have recently lost your source of income and now cannot make payments. In the first instance, you could file a complaint for contempt stating your ex is not paying as ordered or you could file a complaint for modification asking that your ex pay you in a particular way to eliminate the conflict. In the second instance, you should file for a modification to decrease, suspend, or terminate your alimony payments assuming that the agreement for the payments merged into the divorce judgement. This simply means that the payments remain modifiable. Sometimes it may be more advantageous to request that the alimony provisions survive because it might get you a lower payment or a shorter time period for payments; however, if the clause survived, that means you cannot change it later, no matter what the circumstances.
When one parent gets a better job or loses a job, it can cause disagreements around the child support calculation. One may think the support should increase and the other may think it should decrease. It’s important to understand your worst-case scenario when seeking a modification of child support. We have seen people think that the support amount should decrease because one of their children aged out, but because of the changes to the calculation pursuant to the current child support guidelines coupled with an increase in this parent’s income, the child support would have gone up substantially had they filed. It’s important to get an attorney to run your worst and best case scenarios when it comes to seeking a child support modification. However, if you have lost your job or your income has decreased, you do want to move quickly because you will be held to the prior order until you are able to get into court and the Judge orders a decrease. You cannot just stop making payments because of a change in your income.
Access to children can be a major point of contention. For instance, if one parent continues to bring the kids home late after his or her parenting time, interferes with the children’s extracurricular activities and other parts of the routine by refusing to work around these activities, seeking a modification may be necessary. If one parent moves in a way that does not make the prior parenting schedule appropriate, but refuses to cooperate with amending it to work best for the kids, that may be something you need to go to court over.
Disputes after marriage may occur with regard to how property is divided. For example, if the court awarded you a portion of your ex’s retirement account, but they will not cooperate with the retirement plan administrator to transfer the funds to you, you could file a complaint for contempt. Perhaps the court ordered the sale of your family home but your ex refuses to sign the listing agreement. This scenario can cause disagreements and require you to seek the appointment of a Special Master to have the authority to sign the documents on your ex’s behalf.
PAYMENT OF DEBT AND LEGAL FEES
Other conflicts arise when an ex does not pay their share of the marital debts, despite previously being ordered to do so. If your name is still on these accounts, any missed payments can damage your credit. Another potential cause of a post-divorce dispute could be if your former spouse was supposed to reimburse you for a portion of your divorce legal fees but fails to make any payments, leaving you to have to seek court intervention in order to make your ex actually pay you.
In each of these post-divorce dispute scenarios, a lawyer in Hanover can discuss your options with you, including modifying the divorce decree or taking action to secure your ex’s compliance.
Whether you need to revise your divorce decree to accommodate a child’s current needs or decrease an alimony payment based on the change in your employment, filing for a modification may be a good option. In Massachusetts, a Judge can order a modification of a support payment within the course of the litigation, although depending on the circumstances, the Judge may not always be willing to do so without discovery being conducted. For almost all other issues, the Court will need to determine whether a modification is warranted if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the divorce was finalized and will only generally change the prior order on a temporary basis if there is an emergent situation requiring the immediate change.
In some situations, a party may simply want to ensure that their ex complies with the terms of the current divorce decree. In these situations, a person may request that a court enforce the terms and hold your former spouse in contempt if they refuse to comply. The requirements to prove a contempt is that there has to be a clear and unequivocal order (meaning it must be an issue that cannot reasonably be interpreted in a different manner) and there must be a willful violation (meaning the person not upholding his or her end of the bargain does not have a reasonable and justifiable excuse).
In an enforcement or contempt action, there are several steps a court can take. These include but are not limited to:
- Revising the visitation schedule to require your ex to return the children at an earlier time;
- Ordering your ex to cooperate with anyone who is assisting in the transfer of the marital property (e.g., the retirement plan administrator, the real estate agent) or appointing a Special Master;
- Issuing a judgment against your ex for the amount of the unpaid debts and garnishing their wages to pay the judgment;
- Incarcerating your ex if they refuse to make alimony payments even after they have been held in contempt.
If the court takes one or more of these actions, the Judge might also require your former spouse to reimburse you for the additional attorney’s fees you incurred by pursuing the enforcement or contempt proceeding following a post-divorce dispute. There generally needs to be a finding of contempt in these situations, however.
"O'Connor Family Law and specifically Lydia Field were amazing throughout my entire divorce process. Lydia was so knowledgeable, responsive, and helpful as we worked through the mountains of paperwork."- Sarah M.
"I am so happy with the services Attorney Khan provided, she came in at the last minute after a previous attorney did not fulfil his duties and she found errors he had made, worked all weekend on a rush to finalize my divorce."- Courtney O.
"LaKeshia Parker Smalls and her team were so wonderful throughout my divorce process. I spoke with a few other lawyers before hiring her who made me feel like a burden with all the questions I needed answers to."- Jessica C.
"Sasha Khan worked with me for 10 months on a child custody modification. She had a difficult case with the opposing party, but was very professional and driven to defend me and give advice through a very difficult time in my life."- Shannon W.
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