Law Library -
Modifying Child Custody
As might be expected, any request to modify child support has to strike the court as being in the best interest of the child(ren).
Technically speaking, a child custody order can be modified at any time while the child(ren) is/are under the age of the 18 (there are exceptions which can extend the age, however). Additionally, as a child gets older (usually 14 years old or older) he or she can be given a voice is in what the order will be if the court believes that the input is appropriate.
Initially, during a proceeding, while the issue is being reviewed, orders are/can be, made temporarily and without prejudice. Such an order allows for the safety and security of the child while giving both the process and the parents the ability to come to a workable and acceptable agreement in the most “amicable” way (mediation).
Once a custody order has been determined, and has become a “final order,” the presumption is that a determination has been made which was in the best interest of the minors and as such, the next concern is preserving the stability of their environment and upbringing. After a final order has been made, post-judgement changes in a custody order need to reflect a change of circumstances that is/are significant. Important enough to warrant upsetting the first order and the stability of the children’s lives.
Changes in employment which affects child support, may not be enough to alter an order. After all, a greater custody allowance may bring lower support payments, but it also brings with it the greater daily expense for supporting the children. Moreover, if a court believes that a person asking for the change—for financial reason—in “underemployed” by their own choice, the court can impute a wage or salary for the person making the request despite his/her actual income.
A change in circumstances is defined by the reasons that brought the first order about, and how new circumstances support the children better than the first. It’s not an easy question. Call me if you find yourself needing to change a previous order. We should talk. The first 30 minutes are free.