It’s not uncommon that in the months and years after a divorce, some modifications are eventually needed. That’s especially true if there are children involved. Even in divorces without children, if your ex suddenly loses their job or faces some other financial crisis, they might struggle to pay spousal support and ask you for a break. You might pity them and want to say it’s OK if they miss the next couple of payments. However, there are some risks you need to remember before you agree to anything outside of court.

Beware the slippery slope

You’ve got to think about the worst-case scenario. You may still trust your ex enough to believe they’re actually in financial trouble and could use some help to get back on their feet. However, if you say that they can skip a payment, what’s to stop them from assuming it’s fine to skip paying next month too? When people are allowed to become lax about responsibilities, they can get lazy and bad behavior may become routine. Once they know they can get away with not paying, it could be a lot more difficult to enforce your divorce decree without some legal intervention.

Furthermore, it’s vital to recognize that informal modifications to your divorce decree (i.e., those not explicitly stated in an official court order) don’t legally alter the rights and responsibilities of either of you. That’s true for spousal support, child support or other divorce-related matters codified in a legal document. These kinds of handshake deals won’t hold up in court, and they might even weaken your case later in a court battle.

Getting legal help

It’s far safer to go through the official process before saying yes to anything major. Further, it’s always a good idea to get experienced legal advice when you’re facing a complex situation like divorce agreement modifications. If you and your ex agree about the changes that need to be made, you don’t have to fight it out in court. An experienced New Jersey attorney can help you find an amicable solution while also safeguarding your rights.