Making Modifications to Child Custody or Child Support in Court 

Has your situation changed since you finalized your divorce or parenting plan? Are you looking to make changes to your court order or final judgment but don’t know if you can? Do not fret. Where there is a will, there is (in most situations) a way! Making modifications to child custody or child support in court is possible. You can ask the court for a post-judgment modification for almost all parenting plans. Same as custody agreements, or court-ordered monthly support payments.

What is a post-judgment modification?

A post-judgment modification is a court order issued to make a change to previous judgments in court. Such as spousal support, child support, or child custody. 

Child Custody

What are some reasons you may need a modification in Child Custody?

There are several reasons you may need to make an adjustment to your court order or agreement. Change is natural and inevitable, especially when it comes to children. Maybe you are looking to move, and you want to change your primary residence, or you’re moving more than 50 miles away. You may need to ask the court for a modification. Maybe you want more visitation time with your children because you are in a new home with more space or your work schedule changed from when your custody agreement or order was entered. 

Aside from custody, there could also be changes in your financial situation that would result in child support modifications needed to be made or alimony modifications. For example, if you lose your job and are unable to pay the monthly amount, you can petition to change it. Also, if there is a change in child-related expenses such as an increase in daycare costs, health insurance costs, or your child’s medical needs and you need more support, you can also petition to modify the monthly child support you pay or get paid to you. 

How do I modify my child support?

When petitioning for modifications, there are some different requirements depending on what you are trying to change. If you are looking to make changes to your child support arrangement, you must prove three things: 

  1. A Substantial Change In Circumstances.

In order to make the change, there will have to be proof that something significant has changed. Such as in your, or the other side’s, monthly income or child-related expenses. For example, a termination letter to prove a change of employment or proof of increased daycare tuition. The change must result in either a minimum 15% change in your monthly obligation. Likewise, a $50 change in the current child support amount being paid in order to be considered substantial. 

  1. The Change Cannot Be Something Reasonably Foreseeable At The Time Of The Judgment 

Modifications cannot be based on something that was already considered or known at the time of the order or judgment you are seeking to modify. For example, if you have extra expenses that you were aware of during the litigation or negotiations of the original judgment or order, you will not be able to now attempt to use that as a basis to modify.

  1. The Change Is Material, Involuntary, And Permanent

This means you must prove that the change significantly affects your financial situation. Besides that you did not purposely or voluntarily cause the change, and it is long-lasting. That can be more than 6 months to a year depending on the change. 

Child Custody

How do I modify my child custody and/or visitation?

To change your parenting plan, time-sharing, custody, or major decision-making for your child, there are different requirements needed for this kind of modification. It is important to keep this in mind, to make sure you have the correct evidence collected when you go to an attorney. If you are looking to make changes to your custody order or agreement, you must prove two things: 

  1. A Substantial Change In The Circumstances Of The Parties Or The Minor Child

Like the requirement for child support modifications, one must prove a significant, unforeseeable change, such as illness, relocation, certain criminal charges, or the development of an illegal addiction. 

  1. The Change In Custody, Time-Sharing, Or Decision Making Will Be In The Best Interest Of The Minor Child

This tends to be the more difficult element to prove. This applies if you are relocating and would like to bring the child with you. You must prove that the move is in the best interests of the child. Another example is if you are trying to limit the custody or visitation of the child. This can be due to the other parent falling ill or developing an illegal addiction. You must prove why these elements would limit their ability to parent and/or be a detriment to the child. 

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