See You in Court (Again)

There’s a popular song with a refrain that goes: “You never can say goodbye. No, no, no, you never can say goodbye.”

That’s what happens when after a divorce former spouses face each other in court again when one asks the judge to modify a court order about spousal or child support or both or the terms and conditions of custody and visitation.

Very few divorcing couples consider that long after their divorce, they may be still be paying for it in legal bills occasioned by modifications, which are court orders to change previous court orders.

These court actions, even when they come about for good-faith reasons, have a way of bringing out the worst in the party hauled back into court as the defendant or respondent in an action. The party must answer the allegation, which means more legal bills.

Modifications can become an expensive item that must be faced. One cannot appeal to eliminate child support, for example; however, one can appeal for a change in the amount due to changed circumstances. Courts entertain motions to modify spousal and child custody and support because of a change in circumstance in the lives of the either the custodial or the noncustodial parent, in the case of custody, or in the lives of the payor or the payee, in the case of alimony. Changed circumstances very often involve the reduced or increased income of one of the parties. Very often the custodial parent (usually the mother) seeks to modify the child support because of increases in the cost of living.

Sometimes couples can head off the need for court appearance by taking care in the language of separation agreements. For example, some separation agreements provide for automatic escalator clauses that eliminate the need for court-ordered modification.

Sometime former spouses see one another again in court when the custody and visitation routines break down, or when the custodial parent attempts to remove the child from easy visitation by the noncustodial parent.

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