Post-Judgment Divorce Modification and Mediation
Once you receive your final judgment of divorce from the court, is the divorce complete? Maybe or maybe not.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have some additional and ongoing issues to deal with. These are called post-judgment matters. They include:
- Periodically adjusting the parenting plan or changing custody. If you have a child or children together, every year the needs of those children change — or perhaps your needs change (such as a new job or relationship that change schedules, change in the health of one of the parents or a child, one of the parents move farther away from the other, one of the children goes off to college, etc.). Those changes might require adjustment of the parenting plan or custody.
- Changes to child support. Child support usually ties into the number of nights per week the parents have physical custody of the child(ren) and the (relative) income of the parents. If there is a change to the parenting plan, child support usually needs adjustment. Similarly, if there is a change in the parents’ income levels, that may also cause an adjustment in the child support.
- Changes to alimony / spousal support / maintenance. While many marital settlement agreements (MSA’s) set alimony to a specific level, assuming alimony is agreed to or granted, under New Jersey law either party has the right to ask for an adjustment when there are changed circumstances. Changed circumstances can be a change in: employment, income, cost of living, health of the parties, relationships or family situation, living situation, tax laws, etc. Modifications will not apply if there was an informed absolute waiver of alimony and/or modification due to the changed circumstances.
- Disagreements over interpretations of the Marital Settlement Agreement or unforeseen circumstances. When your MSA is finalized, we try to anticipate all circumstances and make contingencies for them. But no one has a perfect crystal ball to predict the future. Things may happen that were unanticipated or there may be a disagreement over how an MSA clause is to be interpreted.
Much like with your original divorce, there are options for dealing with post-judgment issues that may arise. You can hire attorneys to resolve these issues on your behalves, whether that is attorney to attorney or through the court. Like the original divorce, this can get expensive since both sides need independent counsel. Post-judgment mediation is another option. The mediator would help the parties analyze the issues, develop alternatives, look at the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative and help the parties figure out what might work best for them. Mediation is generally cheaper than going the attorney route and makes for a less adversarial approach. One of the things I try to do with my clients is help them understand how we came up with a framework for each item (i.e. alimony, child support, etc.) so each client can discuss informed post-judgment changes with their ex-spouse in the future — without involving the mediator (or lawyers for negotiation purposes).
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Contact Sanns Mediation Now
For questions or to get started, contact Marvin at Sanns Mediation.