New Year – Good Time to Check Your Divorce Agreement?

January 2, 2018

        New Years is always a good time to review your finances, business obligations, and make sure everything is in order.  It may also be a good time to dust off that divorce agreement.  
While it is certainly tempting to put that agreement away in a safe place once the divorce is finalized, never to be looked at again, many divorce agreements may include clauses which might be subject to review or revocation based upon changes in the parties circumstances.  
Child Support
Although many if not most people paying child support in New Jersey are doing so through a program supervised by the local Probation Department, for those cases where the payor is obligated to pay directly to the payee, the payee may be entitled to a review or cost of living adjustment to the child support obligation.  Does one party have more or less overnight parenting time than when the first child support order was entered? Did one or both parties remarry?  Are there additional children?  These all may be circumstances which warrant a review and modification of child support.  
       How about college – are one or both parties saving money to help pay for college?  In New Jersey, divorce parents are generally obligated to contribute towards children’s college expenses, even if it is not discussed in the parties’ divorce agreement. 
In addition, you may want to review your divorce agreement to verify that the parties have been appropriately sharing in expenses for the children.  Child support awarded pursuant to the New Jersey Guidelines covers many but not all expenses for the children, and as any person with older children know, teenagers can be very expensive.  Do you know who pays for the cleats for soccer or ice skates for hockey?  How about the cell phones?  You may also be entitled to receive additional child support for such items as car insurance and vehicles for the children.  
It is important to periodically check your divorce agreement to see if and when child support obligations should be reviewed.  If you have any questions about whether or not you are entitled to a child support review or about the sharing of expenses, you should contact one of our Family Law Attorneys.  
Life Insurance
Many divorce agreements obligate one if not both parties to provide life insurance to secure child support and alimony obligations.  Many divorce agreements also require that the obligor provide proof insurance on a regular if not annual basis.  Are you carrying sufficient life insurance?  Is your spouse carrying sufficient life insurance?  Has there been a change of circumstance which may warrant a reduction in the amount of life insurance required by the divorce agreement?  For example, if parties have two children, but one is emancipated, a lesser amount of life insurance may be necessary to secure the child support obligations for the second child.  
You may also want to make sure that your beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement plans comply with the requirements of your divorce agreement and your own wishes.  You may or may not be obligated to name your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or trustee for the benefit of the children.  
        Finally, now is a good time to consult with an estate planning attorney to see if you should be establishing a trust for the benefit of your children or preparing or modifying your Last Will and Testament.  

        Our Estate Planning attorneys are here to help.  Please contact one today.