Circumstances change. People move, lose jobs, change living situations, and more. Divorce settlements are based on your circumstances at that particular moment. But what happens when things shift? Can you go back and modify the agreement after the final judgment comes down?
When circumstances change it often creates challenges for those paying or receiving child support. Changes in employment status, household income, or other events can drastically affect the need for, or ability to pay, support.
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Can You Alter Your Decree After the Fact?
For people in these situations, it can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are options available to adjust support payments and increase your time with your kids. Modifications and appeals provide opportunities for amending child support and custody orders.
What is child custody modification?
You can use the child custody modification process to change a final court order. This can alter where the child lives, the frequency and duration of visits, the amount of financial support, and other elements of the original parenting plan.
Depending on no what they see to change, modifications fall into one of two categories: major or minor.
As the name implies, major modification requests significant changes to the parenting plan. Think of these as titanic shifts in the existing arrangement.
A good example of a major change would be to request physical custody from your ex.
Minor modification, on the other hand, includes things like adjusting pickup times or switching drop off locations.
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The Modification Process
In many situations, especially when it comes to small things, parents often agree to changes on their own. Small things, like swapping weekends or pushing a pick up back a few hours to go to a Trailblazers game. Schedules change, things come up, and people adjust on the fly.
However, to make any permanent modifications to the parenting plan, major or minor, the court must evaluate them.
Before the court grants a modification, the person requesting the change must demonstrate a substantial reason. If you can’t show adequate cause, the court will most likely dismiss your case.
An appeal is a request to review and change the decision of the court. It’s important to note that an appeal is not a second trial. The Oregon Court of Appeals hears your case. Their goal is to make sure the trial court followed all applicable laws and did not abuse its discretion.
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Here’s where things get tricky. Though child custody modification is possible, it’s a difficult proposition.
When it comes to custody, the courts place the child’s best interests above all other concerns. They aim to keep the child’s life as steady and consistent as possible. Because of this, they’re often hesitant to make substantial changes to an existing parenting plan.
To achieve a modification, you not only have to show a change in circumstances, in most cases, they also need to be drastic. They’re certainly unlikely to consider requests that are more for parental convenience than other reasons.
Even then–even if you show a significant change in your financial situation–unless a child’s physical or mental safety is in danger, they might not grant the change.
It’s a tough reality, and probably not one you want to hear. But it’s definitely best to be aware of this before you start down this road.
To achieve a child custody modification, consulting an experienced family law attorney will help your case and increase your odds. A professional who has been through these situations before can be invaluable. They’ll be able to assess your case, give you a better idea of your chances of being successful, and offer advice about the best way to proceed.
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