We come across many potential clients (and current clients) that ask us a multitude of questions about what their ex spouse can or cannot do after their divorce has been finalized. These questions usually arise in regards to their children. The best approach is this: Look at your Parenting Plan and/or Separation Agreement. These documents are possibly the most important documents, along with your decree, that you’ll receive from your court case. These agreements will detail everything that you’ve agreed upon or that the judge has ordered. They outline allocation of debt, financial accounts, property, parenting time (including birthdays and all holidays), rules about schooling and vacation with children, tax matters, and much more.
If you’re still in the process of going through a domestic relations case, you may not have your Parenting Plan or Separation Agreement yet. There are still rules about what you (and your soon to be ex spouse) can and cannot do with regards to children, finances, property, etc. This is found in the Petition that was filed to open your case. It’s called a temporary injunction. Your attorney should make you aware of this. If you violate this injunction during the process of your case, it will not look good when it’s time to go in front of the judge. Do be sure that you’re reading all of your court documents thoroughly and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Nine times out of ten, the answers to your questions will be found either in the temporary injunction on your petition or in your Parenting Plan and/or Separation Agreement. If it’s not, please contact your attorney. A well written Parenting Plan or Separation Agreement should be quite comprehensive and not leave anything up for interpretation.
If It turns out that your ex is, in fact, doing something that the Parenting Plan or Separation Agreement prohibits, your best bet is to try and work it out on your own. If you bring it back to court, you will be required to attend mediation first. The next step would be to file a contempt of court. Contempt actions are not a quick and easy process. They tend to be long and drawn out. They can be incredibly frustrating and emotional and are very expensive.
With all that being said, be sure to read all of your court documents thoroughly and try to make it work outside of the courtroom, especially when children are involved. Not only will it save you time and money, it will be good for your children to see you working together as a team. We do understand that sometimes it’s not possible to work it out on your own and that’s what the courts are for. If your ex is being utterly ridiculous, make sure you have someone on your side that can effectively fight for your rights and help you navigate the complexity of the court system.