Is there a way she can modify that agreement and go after my retirement fund in the future?
I cannot inform you on the specific laws of your state, but I can advise you on how Texas courts would most likely deal with your specific question as that is where I am licensed.
Under Texas law, after a divorce decree is entered, it becomes a final judgment on the 31st day after the divorce decree is signed by the court. Tex. R. Civ. P. 329(b). Once the decree of divorce is final the divorce proceeding has concluded. The fact that a divorce decree is modifiable in regards to conservatorship or child support does not preclude it from being considered final.
However, even after the expiration of the court’s plenary jurisdiction to grant a new trial, vacate, modify, correct or reform the judgment expires, the court still retains an inherent power to clarify or enforce a divorce decree. Thus, even on the 31st day the court can clarify or enforce the decree, but cannot amend, modify, alter or substantively change the division of property made or approved in the decree.
As such, in your situation a Texas court would most likely not allow for an amendment, modification or substantive change to your divorce decree since ten years have passed and as such it is a final judgment. Therefore, since you and your ex-wife agreed 10 years ago in the final decree to waive all potential rights to each others retirement funds, neither of you can now modify such agreement to the contrary.
Thank you for submitting your question. Please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction to discuss the specifics of your situation. Please be advised that my answering of this question does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
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Jennifer Hankinson is a Staff Attorney in the Dallas, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Hankinson is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Hankinson received her bachelors’ degrees in both Finance and Political Science from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She later received her Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, where she graduated Cum Laude.