Child custody and support orders provide critical protection and direction for parents after separation or divorce. However, there will often come a time when these orders are no longer appropriate and need to be changed.
After the following events, modification of these orders may be necessary.
Financial changes are among the most common reasons to modify custody and support orders. In situations where a parent’s financial resources change dramatically, modification can be appropriate. Some examples of these events include:
- Loss of job
- Experiencing a financial windfall
- Changes in a parent’s financial contributions to a child’s education or medical care
These events – when they are significant – can warrant modifications.
Custody and support orders reflect the circumstances of parents and children at the time the order is put in place. Changes in these circumstances can render existing orders unreasonable or impossible to comply with logistically. Thus, modification may be necessary if:
- A parent relocates
- A child moves away for school
- A parent is incarcerated
- A parent remarries
- A parent has more children
- A parent or child passes away
These events can dramatically affect the logistical elements of these orders.
Changes in a child’s needs
Children get older, and their needs will change. While not all developmental changes will justify modifying court orders, some can be quite significant. For instance, modification may be appropriate when a child:
- Suffers a severe injury or illness
- Expresses the preference to live with the other parent
- Becomes more independent and can drive and spend more time alone
- Goes away to college
- Participates in intensive or expensive extracurricular activities
These scenarios can change what a child needs and what is in their best interests, meaning a modification is in order.
Making the changes
If you have or will experience a significant change like those mentioned in this post, making informal changes or reaching agreements without seeking court approval can be a mistake. Parents must complete the appropriate forms and petition the courts for modification.
Failure to take these steps can make it impossible for a court to enforce an order.
Modifying child custody or support orders can be crucial for parents and children. Knowing when this should happen can make it easier for parties to navigate this process.