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What Does a Divorce Attorney Do After Divorce?

Despite your divorce being finally settled and the Marital Dissolution Agreement signed and approved and you have received the court order formally dissolving your marriage, you may still need the services of a divorce attorney. This is especially true if there are minor children of the marriage, if one party is paying child support or if spousal maintenance is being paid since changes in circumstances can lead to one party seeking modifications. If you are seeking modification of a court order regarding your divorce, contact the Pasadena family law attorneys for advice.

Child Custody

It is not unusual for post-divorce motions to be filed for change of custody, to modify visitation or to reduce or increase the amount of child support. If a parent is requesting a change in the current custody arrangement, he or she must demonstrate why a change is in the best interests of the child.

  • Temporary Absence

You will not convince a court to alter the status quo, for example, if the custodial parent is temporarily absent from the family home so long as it is not prolonged, the parent makes attempts to maintain contact with the children and expresses a desire to retain physical custody.

This situation can arise, for example, when the custodial parent is in the military and is deployed overseas. The child stays with the noncustodial parent who wants to become the primary custodian when the other parent comes home after service is completed. The court usually is very flexible in this scenario and will not disrupt the status quo because a parent performed military service.

  • Child’s Preference

The child can have a say in changing custody though it takes more than the child’s verbal wish to now want to live with the other parent. The court will consider the child’s age, maturity, influence of the parents and alienation from the current custodial parent. Usually, the child must be at least 14 though a child of unusual maturity and independence can have some sway over the court. The court will examine the child to determine if other factors are influencing the decision. Often, the court will order counseling if there are problems with the current arrangement such as abuse or violence or there is a suspicion that a parent is pressuring the child. A child custody evaluator may also be appointed by the court to investigate the matter and to report to the court. Pasadena family law attorneys can advise you of the process and prepare you for what will ensue.

  • Domestic Violence

Allegations of domestic violence are taken seriously and can lead to criminal charges if sufficient proof is presented to the District Attorney’s Office. If it is occurring, the noncustodial parent can request that a protective order issue and that there be a change in custody.

Child Support Modification

Post-divorce, you can move the court to alter the child support order if you can demonstrate a material change in circumstances. Examples include:

  • A parent becomes incarcerated
  • Loss of employment
  • Incapacity—mental or physical
  • Another child is born from a separate relationship
  • Change in the child’s needs

Your attorney can assist you in demonstrating a change in circumstances by gathering financial records, employment documents including paystubs, a list of monthly expenses, proof of loss of employment and receipt of public benefits, disability information, medical records or reports and documents evidencing the child’s change in needs that necessitates more financial support. If you lost your job or became incapacitated, you will need to either show evidence you are looking for work or that you are unable to do so. Having Pasadena family law attorneys advocating for you is essential if you want the best opportunity to have the support order modified.

Spousal Maintenance

Your family law attorney can also assist you in changing the spousal maintenance, or alimony, order if conditions arise that change the circumstances of the recipient spouse. For marriages of less than 10 years where a spouse has a financial need for education or job training to become self-supporting, the support is usually no longer than half the marriage’s duration. Should the spouse become self-supporting following a marriage of any duration but before the expiration of the support order, you could ask the court to terminate it.

Other circumstances that may justify reduction of the support amount or its termination include:

  • Retirement or forced early retirement
  • Reduction in wages or salary
  • The supported spouse is now earning more
  • The supported spouse is intentionally not seeking employment
  • The supported spouse is now cohabitating
  • The supported spouse remarried

Other issues that arise after divorce may include a parent wishing to relocate to another state or grandparents’ rights. If you have any issues regarding your ex-spouse or children, contact Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law to discuss your legal options.