There is no doubt the divorce process is long, stressful, and expensive, so when it is final, and you can start to move forward with your life, it’s easy to lose track of many important documents and considerations. Many attorneys will withdraw from your case after the final order is issued, because, for all intents and purposes, the scope of what you retained them to do is complete. However, and especially if you have children with your now ex-spouse, there are many things to remember and keep track of.
1) Keep a copy of your final divorce decree and know where it is.
(a) If you are a woman and want to change your name back to your maiden name, you will need this court order to show to the BMV, Social Security Office, Credit Cards and other accounts you need to change your name on.
(b) There are a lot of details that you may forget when it comes to effectuating the property division.
(c) There are a lot of details and specifics related to custody, parenting time, and child support, and it may be helpful to reference your Order when questions or disputes come up.
2) Pay/Receive child support through the County Clerk or State Central Bureau, and make sure there is an Income Wage withholding Order.
(a) If you pay, or receive, child support directly, either cash or check, to/from your ex-spouse the only way to track what was paid is bank statements or check stubs, if you are withdrawing/writing a check/depositing same in a bank account. If it is in cash, there is virtually no way to track. If a dispute ever arises regarding an over payment or underpayment of support, it becomes extremely difficult to track. When support is paid to the County Clerk or State Central Bureau these departments keep the records, which can be requested at any time to show if there has been an overpayment or underpayment of support.
(b) Child support is calculated by the week, and because some months have 5 weeks, and some have 4, an Income Wage withholding Order can help keep child support on track and avoid accidental overpayment or underpayment.
3) Seek to Modify Child Support if you lose your job or see a decrease in pay (or increase)
(a) Child support is based on your income, therefore, if you find yourself with a reduced income, or job loss, you should immediately seek to modify your child support obligation. Generally if you do see a reduction in income, and do not tell the court, you will be responsible for paying support at the last court ordered amount. While you may need to continue paying support until a court reviews your modification request and makes a ruling, a court can modify the support obligation back to the date you filed your request (and give you credit for the overpayments).
4) Now that your children are almost adults, there are two important considerations 1) emancipation at 19, and 2) college expenses.
(a) In Indiana, you can seek a court order for parental contribution to college expenses if your child attends college. If you divorced when your children were young, it is likely this was not taken into consideration because it was far too early to speculate whether your children would go to college and what your income would be by then. If your child is planning on attending college, and your divorce decree doesn’t provide for this, you may want to seek a college expense contributions order.
(b) In Indiana, a child is considered emancipated at 19 years old. However, if you have an Income Wage withholding Order child support will continue until a court order emancipates the child and orders your support stopped. However, there may be other considerations to seeking the child emancipated before the age of 19, or that support may continue beyond the age of 19.
We hope that you have found these tips to be helpful in remembering some key post divorce issues. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.