After the divorce, sometimes certain legal issues arise for the parties, such as enforcing the terms of the final judgment, making changes that require a re-evaluation of certain terms, dealing with the inability to pay support due to unforeseen circumstances like sickness or job loss, or making adjustments to the visitation or parenting plan as the children grow older.
On the other hand, you are moving on with your life, making progress in your healing process, and beginning to build a new life. You are likely feeling better, and so are your children.
However, something may occur that needs to be addressed legally. What should you do? You may not want to return to court litigation, but you also realize that there are legal issues that may need to be addressed.
We have some tips and thoughts on what to consider before litigating after the judgment.
Why Are You Considering This?
Are you thinking of engaging in litigation after divorce because you genuinely have a viable legal issue that needs to be addressed, or are you holding onto some agenda with your ex? Unfortunately, some people find it difficult to forgive and move on.
Perhaps you were the one who did not want the divorce and cannot seem to let go. Or maybe you have not dealt with your feelings about your ex yet and have built upanger that is causing you to find fault in issues or things that are not a significant concern.
Then there are those who have genuinely moved on and have a legitimate legal issue that needs to be addressed. An example of this might be your ex’s failure to pay support or to abide by the terms of your parenting plan.
Understanding your “why” as to post-divorce litigation is one of the best places to begin. Spend some time exploring this with yourself. Being honest with yourself is key.
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What Will It Cost?
You are starting to get back on your feet financially. Divorce places people in financially challenging situations that can take time to recover from. From legal fees and costs to limited incomes, from new homes to moving, divorce is expensive.
When you consult with a lawyer about the legal issue you are considering, ask the lawyer how much it will cost in attorney’s fees and other costs to take this action to its conclusion. You want to be aware of the expense so you can determine if you have the resources to afford the litigation after divorce.
Next, conduct a cost-benefit analysis. That is, what is the cost of litigating the issue, and what is the amount or benefit that you would receive on both your best day in court and your worst day? Do the math and see if it makes sense.
What Will It Cost You Emotionally?
In addition to the dollars that will be spent, there is an emotional cost to going back to court. This includes taking time away from your other obligations and goals to deal with the legal issues and likely an ex who will not be happy about being back in court.
If you and your ex have children together, ask yourself how being back in court will affect you as co-parents and how the litigation will affect the children.
Another essential question to consider is how well you are doing today. For some, opening the door to litigation after divorce reopens old wounds that you have worked hard to heal. It may spark emotions and feelings that may take you back to a place that you have worked hard to move past. Like with the dollar cost analysis, conducting a good cost-benefit analysis regarding the emotional cost is crucial before proceeding.
How Long Will the Case Take?
Time is a precious commodity, and how you decide to use your time should be part of your consideration. Some cases can take many months or even years before you get before a judge.
Ask your lawyer how long the case may take. Getting advice on this will assist in your decision. Not only will the case take time, but your time, while it is pending, will involve the legalities of preparing with your lawyer, reviewing documents, depositions, and more.
Take a Look at All of the Above and Decide
Only you know what is best for you. It is okay to bounce your thoughts off others who are qualified to assist with your decision. That might include your lawyer, a therapist, a life coach, and even a trusted friend or family member. The goal is to make an educated decision and to consider the options available and what is best for you and your future.
Going through a divorce is never pleasant, and opening upnew litigation after divorce can be equally challenging. So, understanding and contemplating from a less emotional state is likely a good practice. It is okay to take your time on the decision in most circumstances and to consider other potential ways to resolve the issues. Maybe a healthy discussion with your ex (see episode #77 Respond Don’t React), mediation, or even a more collaborative approach might work.
If you have issues after your divorce that are holding you back from being the best version of yourself, one-on-one coaching can help. At Life After Divorce Coaching, we work with clients to move past their divorce so they can create a life that’s better than ever before. Visit our website to set upa Discovery Call today.