Modification & Relocation
If the court has decided a family law issue for you, and issued an order directing timesharing or payment of alimony or child support, that order will govern the future of the relationship between the parties. But what if something changes? Under some circumstances, you can have the order updated to reflect the changes that have occurred. You can seek modification whenever there has been a:
- Material Substantial Change in Circumstances
- Since the order was issued
- That was not anticipated at the time the order was made
- And, in the case of child support or timesharing, that is in the best interest of the child.
Modification of Alimony
The divorce is over, but something has changed: a new job, job loss, increase or reduction in income, a supportive relationship. In your divorce, if the court awarded rehabilitative, durational or permanent alimony, the payment was calculated based on the need and ability of each spouse to pay. So any factor which affects the need of the receiving spouse or the ability of the paying spouse to maintain the alimony payments can be considered by the court if it represents a material, substantial change in circumstances. Some examples of material, substantial changes may include:
- Disability or Retirement of the paying spouse
- A receiving spouse who begins using alimony to support someone else, or who begins getting additional financial support from a new love interest.
- The completion or abandonment of an education or rehabilitation plan awarded to help the spouse to become self-sufficient
If you or your ex has experienced a change in income, call us so we can discuss the facts of your situation and determine whether a modification of alimony is warranted. We will help you work with financial experts when necessary, for instance, to evaluate a business’s worth, or to estimate a person’s earning potential. It is important to act quickly upon discovery of the change. We can help you negotiate a change in settlement with your ex to minimize legal costs, or we can aggressively litigate the issue if your former spouse is unwilling to cooperate.
Modification of Child Support
Since the court awarded child support, something has changed: a new diagnosis, an increase in expenses, or a change in the income and earning power of either parent. Some examples of modifications include:
- A request to increase child support because the paying parent makes significantly more money than they used to, or because the receiving parent’s income has decreased for reasons beyond their control.
- A request to decrease child support because the paying parent has lost their job or their income has diminished for reasons beyond their control (i.e. a construction contractor who couldn’t find work during the 2007 housing crash)
- A child has been identified with special needs, requiring more care and expense than what was anticipated at the time child support was ordered
Or perhaps you (or your ex) has found a new opportunity, and it’s located out of state. What does this mean for you or for your relationship with your child? Do you even have to do anything?
In short, yes.
When the court approved or issued the parenting plan for your child, it became a court order. The child’s guardians are required to follow the court-ordered parenting plan. It’s very hard to make a plan that will continue to work for you and your child until they reach the age of 18, but that is what the parenting plan attempts to do! Parents sometimes agree to minor modifications between themselves to accommodate small changes, although when they do this, they are still technically in violation of the court order. These accommodations don’t become significant unless someone objects – and then the court will typically direct the parties back to the plan, sometimes with sanctions to the parent who failed to follow the plan as the court ordered.
When changes are more significant, and to avoid violating the court-ordered parenting plan, the parent or guardian must seek modification, a change to the plan, with the court’s approval. Either party can request a modification. You may be proactive about anticipating a change ahead, or you may be reacting to a change in the other party’s circumstance.
- A request to relocate to pursue a lucrative new career opportunity or strengthen a relationship that will be in the child’s best interest
- A request to eliminate alimony upon the retirement of the paying spouse
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