Modification of Custody or
Custody, parenting time, and child support can all be modified subject to some restrictions. Frequently, custody or parenting time and child support are modified in the same action. If there is a change to the custody or parenting time schedule, then a modification of child support is usually appropriate. A modification of child support can be addressed individually if neither party seeks to change the custody or parenting time schedule.
Modification of Custody
To modify custody, the non-custodial parent who is seeking custody needs to show that there has been a material change in circumstances. This can be a change in either parent’s or the child’s circumstances. Whether or not a material change in circumstances has been met depends on the specific facts of your case and can best be analyzed by an attorney. If a material change in circumstances can be shown, then the standard applied in determining custody is the best interests of the child.
Modifications of custody do not have a set waiting period between actions, however, it is usually hard to show, though not impossible, that there has been a material change in circumstances if a custody action recently concluded.
Modification of Parenting Time
Modifying parenting time is easier than modifying custody since you do not have to show that there has been a material change in circumstances. Parties may seek to modify parenting time to accommodate changes in the child’s or parent’s schedules or changes to the child’s needs as the child grows up.
A modification of parenting time may not be brought within two years of the entry of a previous Order establishing a parenting time schedule.
Some parties choose to modify the parenting time schedule informally without returning to Court. Informal modifications are a viable option for parties who agree on the new schedule, however, because they are not a Court Order, there is no protection if one party unilaterally decides not to follow the new schedule. If parents agree on a new schedule, they may wish to file an uncontested modification to have the new schedule turned into a Court Order to avoid issues down the road.
Modification of Child Support
To receive a modification of child support, the party bringing the action needs to show that there has been a substantial change in either party’s income or the needs of the child. Income can be imputed to a party in a modification action if he or she is not working at his or her earning capacity. Calculation of child support in modification actions is based on the same factors as initial child support calculations.
A party may not bring a modification of child support more frequently than every two years, counting from the date of the final order in the previous case in which that party sought a modification. Exceptions to this rule include if a noncustodial parent has failed to exercise parenting time or has exercised more parenting time than was awarded or if one parent has an involuntary loss of income. Involuntary losses of income do not include quitting your job or opting to take a pay cut in another job or position.
Seeking Legal Help
The Ruthenberg-Marshall Law Firm can analyze your case to determine whether you meet the standard to bring a modification action, help you decide whether the likely result in a modification makes bringing the action worthwhile or not, and represent and advocate for you in a modification case whether you are pursuing or defending against a modificaiton.
For help with your modification action, you can schedule a Legal Clarity Session with The Ruthenberg-Marshall Law Firm by calling 678-435-9069 or contacting us here.