Introducing a new five-part series of revealing articles focusing on the collaborative approach to divorce. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, we seek to educate and inform individuals who browse the internet in search of accurate information about the available divorce options. Our series on collaborative divorce is a must-read for anyone considering divorce. For more information visit our website.
In the years after a divorce is finalized, sometimes
couples find it necessary to make changes to their divorce decree. Understandably,
individuals often choose to return to the attorney who handled their divorce to
make these post-decree changes. It may
come as a surprise to them that, by initially participating in what is known as
the “collaborative” divorce process, it may not be an option to return to their
original collaborative divorce attorney for post decree issues.
There are many situations that may arise in
which an update to a decree is warranted.
Whether it is a matter of terminating maintenance due to the receiving
party cohabitating, clarifying how the parties will pay for college tuition, or
negotiations due to one party’s desire to relocate minor children, post-decree
issues such as these are relatively common.
Those who choose to return to the attorney who handled their divorce
case do so for several reasons. First
and foremost, a returning client often feels that their attorney represented
them well in their divorce, and there is no substitute for a skilled and effective
attorney. Additionally, a divorce
attorney is required to maintain their client files for seven years after the
conclusion of a case. This means that for that length of time all the
documents, financial information and personal information related to the case
are readily available through the original attorney. Eliminating the need to re-compile this
information saves considerable time and expense. Finally, an individual is likely to return to
the attorney who has personal knowledge and the details of their case, and with
whom they have previously established a working relationship and a level of
For these reasons, it is understandably
upsetting to a client who returns to their collaborative attorney with a
post-decree concern, only to be informed that the attorney cannot represent
them. Collaborative attorneys are
restricted from representing their former clients in any post-decree, court-filed
action that is not proceeding in a collaborative manner. During the years I have been practicing divorce
law, I have encountered several instances when a former collaborative client has
returned to me with a post-decree issue only to be frustrated upon learning
that I cannot represent them further, and they will need to start over with a
Even extensive research of the available divorce
options may not uncover all of the pros and cons related to each approach. Couples
who choose the collaborative approach to divorce should be aware of the
inability of their collaborative attorney to represent them in future
post-decree matters. As frequently as post-decree issues occur, this is an
important factor to consider before moving forward in a collaborative divorce.