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WHAT DIVORCE CLIENTS NEED TO KNOW POST-DIVORCE

  1. Modification. Periodic alimony, child custody, and child support are subject to change if there is a substantial change in circumstances. People should check with a lawyer once a year to ensure make sure their rights are protected.
  2. Contempt. Failure to comply with a divorce decree is punishable by "contempt" which may include confinement in jail. Failure to pay child support or alimony or to perform other obligations can result in contempt and possible confinement. If a person owes child support and cannot pay, they should contact a lawyer immediately before falling behind.
  3. Equity. Courts expect parties to do their part to comply with a divorce order. If the other person does wrong, that does not warrant refusing to comply with some part of the decree. For example, a custodial parent should not withhold visitation because of a failure to pay support. And, a person should not withhold support where there is a refusal to allow visitation.
  4. Alimony. Certain kinds of alimony end upon remarriage or death, or, on other circumstances stated. If alimony ends upon death, it is likely a taxable event, which means that the alimony is "deductible" to the payer and "inculpable" in the receiver's income.
  5. Child Support. Child support lasts until each child reaches majority, which is twenty-one (21) in Mississippi and eighteen (18) in most other states. It also ends if a child becomes emancipated (married or self-supporting) or otherwise self-supporting. Support can be modified by either party for a substantial change in circumstances such as a dramatic change in income or expenses.
  6. Medical Bills. The best way to handle payment of medical bills is for the person obtaining the service to send the bill to the other person with an enclosure letter, keeping a copy. Documentation of medical expenses is essential to obtaining reimbursement. In court, the person seeking reimbursement will have to prove they submitted the bill to the other party before the court will hold them accountable for failure to reimburse.
  7. Custody. Custody can be modified if there is a substantial adverse change in circumstances in the custodial parent's household which adversely affects the child.
  8. Visitation. Visitation is subject to change if it is "not working."
  9. Moving. Moving a residence is very significant and should not be attempted without first consulting a lawyer. The custody order or state law may require modification before a move is made. A person having custody who moves without seeking a change in the Court order is liable to a possible loss of custody. Mississippi Law requires each party to file a notice of change of address with the clerk of the divorce court.
  10. Insurance Policies and Wills. Beneficiaries should be changed on insurance policies and pension funds, wills etc.
  11. Checking, Saving and Charge Accounts. Double check that all account names have been properly changed.
  12. Car License fees. If there is a change in ownership of a car, a new car license tag is probably required. Failing to do so in a timely manner may result in penalties. Note, there may also be a credit on the prior license that should be dealt with in the divorce process.
  13. Payers of Support or Alimony. If you are paying support or alimony and need a reduction to a loss of job or reduction of wages, etc., do not change your obligation through either oral or written agreement with your spouse. Orders of a court can only be changed by the court. If you change an arrangement without permission of the court, you do so at your peril.
  14. Document, Document, Document. Parties should keep a diary or calendar of events such as the following: receipts of support, payment of support (always pay by check), failure to exercise visitation, failure to attend school functions, and any other matter pertinent. A contemporaneous record is invaluable if there is a need to return to court.