As we all struggle through the cold winter and look forward to Spring, there is a tendency to perform Spring Cleaning. In my house, this includes going through all of the past year’s financial statements, insurance policies, etc., and getting rid of everything I do not need. In so doing, I will always come across my box of important documents, i.e. my Will, Living Will, passport, etc.; for divorced individuals, the box of important documents will likely include a copy of your Judgment of Divorce and Settlement Agreement.
First, as an aside, if you have not reviewed your Will in a few years, I would encourage you to call an attorney to have it updated, as a Will should be reviewed and updated periodically as your life changes. This is especially true for divorced individuals because you want to be sure that the beneficiaries and trustees named in these documents correspond with your new divorced status. In so doing, you will also want to review the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and other accounts with death beneficiaries.
Second, for divorced individuals, I would encourage you to review your Settlement Agreement. I am often confronted with people who have not reviewed or considered their Settlement Agreement for years, only to find out that their ex-spouse has not been complying with their obligations and/or that they have neglected to request and receive various entitlements. In reviewing your Settlement Agreement, therefore, you should consider the following:
· Life Insurance: If you or your ex-spouse has a life insurance obligation, either to secure alimony or for the benefit of your children, it is reasonable to request proof of coverage on a yearly basis.
· Retirement Accounts: All too often, divorced individuals discover years later, regularly at the time of retirement, that the various pensions or IRAs or 401(k) accounts were never divided.
· Income Verification: Child support can be modified on a change in circumstances. This does not only happen upon a loss of employment or reduction in earnings. Rather, child support can be increased if the parent’s income increases or if the parent receives an inheritance or wins the lottery, as a child is entitled to share in their parent’s good fortune.
· Reimbursements: Parents are often required to share in unreimbursed medical costs, extracurricular activity expenses, etc. If you have not been requesting or receiving your reimbursements, you should review your Agreement and start making the requests.
There may be other items particular to your specific case that have been overlooked or not complied with. As such, I would urge you to review the Settlement Agreement, and if you believe that your ex-spouse has not fully complied with the terms therein, contact an attorney to review your options moving forward. It is important to avoid a situation where you are deemed to have waived claims due to a lack of action to enforce the terms of your Agreement.