Legal matters dealing with family law are very important and decisions made can affect the rest of your life. Some decisions made and agreements reached can not be changed later. Issues involving property division are typically final once signed by the Judge and the time for appeal has passed. This means you may not be able to go back and change a property division even if your spouse promised he would do something different than what is in the decree. Issues of who has the right to claim a child on taxes can become permanent and even if custody changes it might not be able to be changed.
Depending on how the decree is worded you might be giving up rights to property you do not even realize exists. You may be barred from going after that property unless the decree is written to allow you to go after undisclosed property. Texas requires a just and equitable division of property, this does not always mean it should be split 50/50. We will post another blog later about things to consider when dividing property.
When it comes to issues with the children, such as support and visitation and access, these things are subject to modification. There must however be a material and substantial change to be able to request that change. If there are some bad facts from the divorce they will in most cases be barred from evidence in a modification. Modification typically deals with what has happened since the last final order. This makes it important to consult with an attorney on issues of visitation, access and support prior to signing something. Many times I have met with someone who already signed an agreed Final Decree of Divorce which has been signed by the judge. They say they where told by the ex spouse they would do or allow something event though the decree says differently. The ex spouse then uses that leverage when dealing with child related issues or just does not follow thought with it. I then have to explain to them I will most likely not be able to fix the issue with out some substantial change since that last order.
It is also always important to follow the order when it relates to how and when to pay child support, and when and where exchange of the child will happen. If you make any changes to the drop off and pickup always do it in writing. We will have a blog in more detail about issues with paying child support in a way that is different from the order and how to handle visitaion issues when one party is not following the order.
There are many vital issues in the Final Decree of Divorce that if not done correctly, you may be stuck with for remainder of the years the child is a minor. In the event of property issues you may be stuck with it forever.
Please always consult an attorney on any legal issues. This is why we offer a free consultation so people can come see us and get some basic advice without creating that attorney client relationship.