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Is it time to modify your child custody or support agreements?

Securing child-related agreements after divorce or separation provides parents with a sort of map for the next chapter. Parties can have a better idea of the road ahead and plan for any obstacles that might arise.

However, things change over time. And that can mean you need a new map. As such, seeking a modification of custody or support orders can be necessary.

Events that can justify modification

As your child gets older, his or her needs and lifestyle change. Parents' circumstances can change. When these changes are significant, or material, original court orders may no longer work or be fair, and filing a motion to change your order may be wise.

Some possible events that might justify actions for custody modification include:

  • Parental relocation
  • Changes in a parent's health or medical needs
  • Allegations of parental alienation, abuse or custody violations
  • A change in your child's preference for where he or she wants to live
  • Parental incarceration
  • Deterioration or improvement of the parent-child relationship

Possible scenarios that could warrant a modification of child support include:

  • Financial windfalls
  • Job loss
  • Shifts in parenting time
  • Changes in your child's health or medical needs
  • An increase or decrease in the number of children the paying parent is financially supporting
  • A child moving from daycare into school

Modification mistakes to avoid

If you want to modify court orders, it is crucial to take the proper steps to do so. One mistake to avoid is informally changing the terms of your original order. Making changes on your own without the courts' approval can create confusion and make it all but impossible to enforce the new terms.

Another mistake is to overlook modification as an option to begin with. Too many parents struggle with unpayable support orders or outdated custody orders for too long before examining legal options.

A final misstep could be assuming that modification must be contentious. In reality, parents can often reach agreements themselves regarding changes in their circumstances. No one knows your situation better than you do, so keep in mind that modification can be an amicable process.

Modifying child support or custody orders can ensure your agreements continue to align with your lives and capabilities. And with legal guidance, modification can make the road ahead a little smoother for everyone.

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