Modification of Child Support

Modification of Child Support

It is quite common for ‘final court orders’ to become ‘not final.’ They may be adjusted and changed as circumstances changes.

Downward Modifications:

An involuntary loss of income may be a basis for lowering your child support obligation. You must establish that there has been a substantial change in income or financial status of either party. Once this requirement is met, your obligation to pay child support is reconsidered under the new child support guidelines, which include the incomes of both parents.

Upward Modifications:

If you are the custodial parent, there may be circumstances that warrant an increase in child support. A significant increase in the ‘obligated parent’s’ income may be a basis for increasing the child support.

Modification of Custody: Q and A

Q: Can custody and visitation orders be changed?
A: After a final decree of divorce or other order establishing custody and/or visitation is filed with a court, it is not always a final order. If a parent wants to change an existing order, the parent wanting a change may file a motion requesting the court modify it. Usually, courts will modify an existing order only if the parent asking for the change can show a “substantial change in circumstances” that affects the welfare of a child.
Q: What qualifies as a substantial change?
A: This is not exhaustive, but these are some examples:

• Geographic move. If a custodial parent intends to make a significant geographic move, it may constitute a changed circumstance that would cause a court to modify a custody or visitation order. In that situation some courts switch custody from one parent to the other, although the increasingly common approach is to ask the parents to work out a plan under which both parents may continue to have significant contact with their children. The Court will carefully examine the best interests of the child and make a decision about which parent should have custody.

• Change in lifestyle. A parent can obtain a change in a custody or visitation orders if substantial changes in the other parent’s lifestyle threaten or harm the child. For example, if a custodial parent begins working at night and leaving a nine-year-old child alone, the other parent may request a change in custody. Similarly, if a noncustodial parent begins drinking heavily or using drugs, the custodial parent may file a request for modification of the visitation order (asking, for example, that visits occur when the parent is sober, or in the presence of another adult). What constitutes a lifestyle sufficiently detrimental to warrant a change in custody or visitation rights varies tremendously depending on the county and the particular judge deciding the case.

• Change in Child’s desires. At a certain age, a mature child can have some input in deciding with which parent he or she will live.

We are prepared to negotiate with your children’s other parent, or to seek a resolution through mediation, collaborative law, or trial in order to safeguard your children’s best interests.

Working With a Guardian

In some custody cases, judges appoint a Guardian ad Litem to make a recommendation about what is best for the children. The guardian ad litem will investigate the background of the parties, their living conditions, their relationships and any other issues related to the welfare of the children.

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