By: Amanda Vann, 301-563-6685
If there is anything going through the past year during a pandemic has taught us, you can never fully prepare for unforeseen circumstances. Life is constantly changing, and things will happen that are entirely out of your control. Unexpected changes can cause havoc on divorced parties with children.
One of you gets a new job and has to move. Perhaps one of you gets ill, or you lose your job and need to move. These types of changes are difficult for most people to navigate, especially those who are divorced.
If a court order has been issued, the parties will have to reach an amicable agreement on their own, or they will have to go back to court to have the order modified.
For those who have a Separation Agreement in place, which addresses child custody, support, and the visitation schedule, there are some essential things you need to be aware of when changes need to be made to the current Agreement.
- Double-check the exact language of your Separation Agreement. Most agreements contain a clause that if a change needs to be made, the parties will attend mediation and attempt to reach a new agreement before filing in court. This means you will have to make plans for the time it will take to go through mediation. Additionally, your Agreement may already contain language to address what will happen in the event one party has to move out of the current school district the children attend. Checking the language of your Agreement will allow you to determine what issues need to be addressed and the next steps for trying to resolve any conflicts.
- If you need to change your custody schedule, make sure that you sit down and think about what new schedule would actually work between you. Make sure that you consider the impact that the changes may have on your child. For example, consider the time spent traveling between your homes, which can impact your child’s time completing schoolwork and participating in extra-curricular activities. Your child is now older, and the things that were once very important when first making your Agreement may no longer be of concern.
- Do not let changes to child support be a reason to not agree to a new custody schedule that would be best for your child. Anytime there needs to be a change to the custody schedule, most parents worry about the impact on child support. Consult with an attorney to give you insight as to what the new child support payment will be, as well as the options you have to agree to a child support payment that you both feel is best suited to meet the needs of your child.
- All changes to your Separation Agreement should be in writing and signed by both parties. A Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract, so all changes need to be in writing to ensure there is no confusion about the terms and that the contract is enforceable.
- Once you have reached a new agreement, you must ensure the new Agreement is submitted to the court. Failure to do so could create an issue because the court is not aware of the changes, and if a disagreement arises regarding the new Agreement, it can cause you more money and time lost to bring the court up to speed.
- Consult with an attorney to ensure that you understand the impact that the changes to your Agreement will have on you and to give you insight into any foreseeable issues you need to keep on your radar.
If you need to make changes to your current Separation Agreement, the family law attorneys at Andalman and Flynn are here to help.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The firm represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country and practices family law throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone and is there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685.