Usually, the finalization of divorce brings relief. Even though dealing with an ex may still be necessary, the court proceedings, negotiations and legal paperwork are over, freeing up more time, effort and money for post-divorce life.
However, what if circumstances change? Is your divorce decree permanent in California? Some things are very difficult to change, but other aspects you can modify through the legal system so they accommodate your current situation.
The division of marital property is almost always final unless evidence comes to light that your ex-spouse was hiding valuable marital assets from you. In this case, you can pursue your fair share of them, and your ex may face penalties for the deceit.
Whether you pay child and spousal support or receive payments, you can ask for a modification of the amount if you have a substantial change in your financial circumstances. For example, if you are the one making payments and suddenly lose your job, you can ask the court to lower the amount until you find new employment. If you are the payee and experience a significant increase in living expenses that is beyond your control, you may request a higher amount of support.
Custody and visitation arrangements are not forever, either. As needs change and challenges arise, you can create a new parenting schedule that works for everyone. There are a few situations that may necessitate a change to custody arrangements:
- Remarriage of a parent
- Health problems of a parent, child or other family member
- Birth of another child
- New job or work hours
Just as with your divorce, you can either have the courts decide on the changes or you and your ex can determine new terms on your own through mediation or collaboration. Of course, you can always make informal agreements, but they are not legally enforceable, so it best to officially document them to be safe.