Reading your divorce decree is not exactly a fun task. Not only is reviewing the document dissolving your marriage emotionally difficult for many people, the documents are usually full of "legalese" and not always drafted with any eye toward making the document easy to read. For complex cases, there may be more than one document to read of the parties agreed to "bifurcate" or deal with property issues separate from custody and parenting time, for example. Complex cases can result in divorce decrees that look like (and weigh as much as) a book when they are done.
It would be a big mistake to avoid reading and understanding these documents just because they are complex or picking them up causes a flood of emotions. These documents guide and direct much of your life going forward, whether it is when and how you must pick up and drop off your kids in the absence of an agreement with your ex-spouse or under what circumstances and when your ex-spouse has to chip in for unreimbursed medical expenses, you need to know and understand what your divorce decree actually says. If you don’t understand something, call your lawyer and have him or her explain it to you—preferably before you sign it.
Andrew M. Tatge is a partner and chair of the Family Law and Divorce Practice Group at Gislason & Hunter LLP (www.gislason.com). He regularly represents farmers, business owners, professionals, and other high earning and high net worth individuals (or their spouses) in divorce and related actions. Andrew can be reached at email@example.com or (507) 387-1115. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax or legal advice.