What Divorce Clients Need to Know Post-Divorce

A few important things all 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 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 “includable” 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 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. Homestead Exemption. Almost every divorce involves either the transfer of ownership or use of the marital home. What most people don’t know is that the transfer of either title or use of the marital home triggers a loss of homestead exemption and the need to reapply. See: Miss. Code Ann Section 27-33-31. Loss of the homestead benefit can be prevented by filing a new application for the exemption as soon as the change in ownership or use takes place. Note: this loss can occur with the simple act of one of the spouses moving out!
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