Let’s say that for the past 10 years since your Arizona divorce, you and your former spouse have smoothly cooperated in the support, care and decision-making for your child.
As primary custodian, that ex-spouse has been accepting checks you have been sending since losing a job or taking a pay cut, being relocated or remarried, or becoming seriously ill and dealing with health care expenses. It occurred to neither of you to execute a formal, legal, drafted and signed modification of support, custody and visitation — parental rights you simply assumed, and carried out to the best of your ability.
With no documentation to prove what you have accomplished outside the law, and with your comfort level so high that you never saved a check stub or other records that reflected your “arrangement” — you are now financially exposed and vulnerable to the possibility that your ex-wife or ex-husband could very well change their mind, take you to court, and accuse you of having been a deadbeat dad or mom all these years.
And that suddenly vindictive former spouse would have a very good chance of winning.
A family law attorney with an agenda could convince your ex that seeking more money in a family court is a good idea, whether or not you can afford it. Nothing has been signed between you as co-parents since the financial “hit” that affected your support payments. That same lawyer may even try to disguise legal fees as additional arrears on behalf of his or her equally underemployed client, in which case you would essentially be paying for your own mistreatment — your completely unwarranted punishment for what used to be a “go along to get along” attitude.
The lesson? When lifestyles change, suddenly or gradually, dramatically and substantially, pursue a formal legal modification of your divorce settlement obligations. Do it then and there. Discuss it, draft it, sign it. You will be doing yourself a huge favor by taking guesswork out of a post-divorce relationship that can go south at any moment.
If this harrowing situation describes yours, or you fear that it might someday, and you want to protect your access to your child after a divorce, you should contact experienced divorce and family law attorney Steven Zachary of the Zachary Law Group in Gilbert. Our trusted law firm’s founder can tell you more about the importance of protecting yourself legally from the whims of an ex-spouse who has had too much time to think about, and feel manipulated by, informal revisions of your responsibilities.
This is the kind of problem you can try to wish away, sweep under the rug, turn a blind eye and deaf ear to until it can’t be ignored anymore … or you can “Zach it.” Every problem has a solution, and solutions are what Steven Zachary’s leadership is all about. Call today for an initial consultation. 480-389-3533.