By: Alan E. Freed
Your divorce, which took longer than you could have imagined, is finally over and you’re looking forward to a return to normal life. Your ex-spouse, however, is not quite ready to stop fighting, and continues to make your life, and those of your children, difficult. Maybe it’s constant late pickups or an unwillingness to cooperate on making decisions, or maybe it’s just a nasty attitude.
While the divorce process was going on, you frequently would pick up the phone and discuss the problem with your lawyer, who would either provide advice for handling the situation or get in touch with your spouse’s attorney to work out a resolution. The lawyer might even have gotten a judge involved if the situation was serious enough.
In the aftermath of the divorce, when should you return to your attorney to address these post-divorce issues? The first question you should be asking is whether your lawyer has any remedy available that will improve the situation. Here are a few situations in which getting a lawyer involved is clearly warranted:
- Is your ex clearly violating the judgment? If you are not receiving child support or the other parent’s share of expenses, a court may be able to assist you and a call to the lawyer may get that process moving. The same is true if your ex is denying you access to your children or is making unilateral decisions on major issues such as medical procedures or extracurricular activities.
- Is your ex placing the children in danger or otherwise jeopardizing their health or well-being? Courts are charged with protecting children’s “best interests.” If your ex’s actions are sufficiently serious, immediate court action may be the best option.
- Has some significant change in circumstances occurred that makes the current parenting plan unworkable? Has your ex-spouse moved far away without telling you first or changed a work schedule so that the children are unsupervised for significant periods of time? These kinds of changes might mean a modification of the parenting plan is in order.
If, on the other hand, you and your ex are experiencing communications difficulties, or if your ex won’t cooperate with you on making small changes to the schedule, your lawyer will not likely be able to offer much help except perhaps to reach out to the other person’s attorney to try to remedy the situation by agreement. If you and the other parent can’t agree on whether to send little Suzy to counseling, you may want to try to resolve the issue with the help of a mediator. A judge’s only remedy is to change legal custody—kind of like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer.
The experienced family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal can help you determine whether court intervention post-dissolution is available to improve your situation.