Modification of Custody & Support Orders

Modify prior orders as straightforwardly as possible, and get honest assessments of whether changes would be worthwhile

Custody and support orders may need to be modified in order to more accurately reflect your current situation, which may have changed significantly since the original Judgment or subsequent orders were made.

Modifying these orders can be difficult. However, if you find yourself seeking a modification, the experienced Orange County family law attorneys at Brown Dahan can most certainly help you navigate these complex areas.

In order to request a modification of child custody, you must show there has been a change in circumstances since the existing child support order was put in place. The court prefers children to have a stable, consistent routine with their parents. Therefore, the change must require that a new custody and visitation arrangement be made in the best interests of the child or children.

Reasons that demonstrate a change is in a child’s best interest may not be dramatic reasons like illness or unemployment. They can include changes that relate to things like the child’s age. As children grow, they may have different interests or activities that make it crucial to have more time with a particular parent, or to live in a specific neighborhood. Similarly, it may be appropriate to make a change when a parent remarries or needs to move to another residence. These changes can occur every few years.

Similarly, a change of circumstances is required for a modification of child support, except where a judge ordered a child support amount below the amount required under the guidelines. For example, if you stipulated to receive child support at the time of divorce, but find over time that this was not a good decision, you can petition the court for a change.

Some other reasons that may require you to petition the court for a change in child support would be income change, job loss, incarceration of a parent, when a parent has a new child in his or her new relationship, when the child spends different amounts of time with each parent now than he or she did at the time of divorce, or when the child is diagnosed with a disability that requires a special tutor or assistance.

If parents agree to the need for a modification, they can both stipulate to the modification and ask the judge to approve it. Even if there is a verbal agreement with the other parent to modify child support, it is important to put the agreement in writing and bring it to a judge. A child support obligation is taken very seriously by the legal system and requires a formal modification.

Spousal support modifications occur less frequently than custody or child support modifications. The changes in circumstances are usually more significant in spousal support cases, and require things like a drop in income for the party paying for support, or the spouse who was getting the support obtains a good job that requires less support. Or it may be the case that child support has ended because a minor has come of age and you believe the issue of spousal support should also be revisited.

If you have had a significant change in your life that warrants a modification to a spousal support order, it is important to contact your attorney as soon as possible. Spousal support cannot be retroactively changed. It can only be modified going forward.

Revisiting custody and support issues can be a challenge in the aftermath of a divorce or separation. But sometimes it is what you have to do for yourself or your family. The knowledgeable Brown Dahan can help you seek the modification you need.

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