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WHEN THE POST DIVORCE SITUATION CHANGES, DON’T WAIT TO CONSULT A LAWYER ABOUT CHANGING THE ORDER OF DIVORCE

I have witnessed countless times when the situation of the parties and the children changes after the divorce and the parties do nothing to change the Order. This often leads to unfair results down the road. Many times, the parties are getting along quite well and agree on changes, but that does not mean there is protection from a later court action.

A good example is the recent case of Dupre v. Dupre, No. 2010-CA-00496-COA (Decided September 27, 2011). In that case, two significant changes took place which dramatically affected Mr. Dupre’s alimony and support obligations, but he waited over two years before taking action in Court. First, he was under an order to pay $1000 per month in support, but his 16-year-old son left the homes of his parents and lived on his own. Both parents contributed to the support of the son.

Naturally, Mr. Dupre figured he didn’t owe support because the son was no longer living with his Mother, but changes can’t be made like that by the parties. They must seek a change in the Court’s order. Mr. Dupre got tagged with $30,701.96 in past due support and got sent to jail.

In addition, the former Mrs. Dupre shacked up with her boyfriend after hurricane Katrina. If Mr. Dupre had acted promptly, he could have had his $200 per month alimony obligation terminated, but he waited. After he filed, the Court terminated his alimony obligation as of the date of the filing.

So, clients should know that even though you may be getting along with your ex, and everything you are doing seems logical, consult with a lawyer if the situation set forth in the Order of divorce changes. Lawyers should make it a habit of advising clients at the conclusion of the representation to keep them advised of changes so they might take protective actions.