If you have decided to get a divorce, you may or may not be apprehensive about the whole process. For example, if you and your spouse have minor children together and you have acquired some marital assets, such as a nice home with a little equity, you may be nervous about child custody and property division.
When we represent clients in their divorce actions, we highly recommend that spouses create marital settlement agreements before the divorce is final. Settlement agreements can address what happens to a couple’s assets and debts, and what happens to their children.
In a standard marital settlement agreement, the couple will agree on the following:
- Child custody
- Property division
- Debt division
- What will happen to the marital home
- Spousal support (if any)
- What will happen to a spouse’s business (if applicable)
Marital settlement agreements are very valuable tools. Why? Because they allow spouses to reach agreements on very important issues, they give the spouses clarity on what to expect, and they can help spouses avoid having to go to court later for these specific issues because they failed to do so during the divorce.
Settlement agreements put everything in writing in a legally-enforceable, legally-binding document. However, it’s important to note one key facet of these agreements – certain provisions contained within are subject to change.
If you were worried that you could never go back to court and ask for a change in child custody or support, or spousal support, you can breathe a sigh of relief because these may be changed in the future – they are not necessarily set in stone.
Family Court Judges Know That Things Change
If you are about to ask for a divorce, it’s important that you know that your life will go through a lot of changes in the next 5 to 10 years, and same goes for your children and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. For example, you could remarry and want to relocate, or your spouse may do the same.
You may lose your job, or your ex may lose theirs. If you’re paying spousal support, your ex may re-marry before your spousal support payments are supposed to end. Or, your son may dislike your ex-wife’s new husband and when he’s 14, he may want to move in with you instead.
Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom today, but after going back to school and getting a nursing license, you may dramatically increase your income. In that case, your ex-husband may go back to court and ask to lower your spousal support payments. Or, your ex-husband may have a $100,000 per year increase in pay, and you may want to ask the court to increase his child support obligation.
Whatever marital settlement agreement you and your spouse agree to, we want you to know that matters pertaining to child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support can be changed in the future.
Either spouse can ask the court for a post-judgement modification, however, the petitioning spouse must show the court a significant change in circumstances warrants their request for a change.
Looking for a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce lawyer? Contact Cairns law Offices today!