Modification of Orders

Child Custody Modification

Court orders can be changed.  Child support may be modified — either upward or downward — if either parent's financial circumstances change significantly. Spousal support or alimony can be modified based on income change.  Child custody and visitation arrangements may be modified in order to protect the best interests of the child.

 

Whether you are interested in making changes to a court order or you want to prevent changes from being made, I am available to provide legal representation.

A parent who wishes to modify a court order regarding custody and visitation must prove that there has been a material change in circumstances.  The inquiry does not end there.  If the court agrees there has been a material change in circumstances, the petitioning parent must further demonstrate that, because of the change, modification is in the best interests of the child. The determination is equitable in nature, and thus left largely to the judge’s discretion.

It pays to take the high road.  Put your child first.  No matter how nasty or immature your ex-spouse may be, if you value your custody or visitation rights, always act civil.  You do not have to agree with your ex-spouse, but the court will expect you to handle disagreements in a mature manner. 

 

The material change in circumstances standard is a tough burden, and normal, everyday changes in life will not warrant a modification.  No parent should ever show a disregard for the child or attempt to interfere with the ex-spouse’s visitation rights, and such conduct may well lead to a change in custody.

Along these lines, always remember that your happiness is irrelevant.  Only the child matters.  While you may be in love with your new partner, they are not the child’s biological parent and while it may make you happy for the child to call your partner “mommy” or “daddy”, the court may view it as a sign of selfishness and disregard for the mental development of the child. 

A request for modification may stem from attempts at enforcement.  One side may not have been complying with child custody and visitation orders, child support orders or other orders.  However, it is possible that there were legitimate reasons for the lack of compliance.  We may seek a modification in order to ensure compliance in the future.

Divorce decree modifications can be as contentious as the original divorce proceedings.  Financial investigations may be necessary to prove or fight against a request for a child support modification or spousal support modification.  We may need to obtain expert opinions from child psychologists in order to build a case for or against modification of a child custody or visitation agreement, particularly if that modification involves relocation.

In order to make a change, the party requesting it must be able to prove that there has been a material change in circumstances since the court order was entered.  Loss of job may not be sufficient.  The other side may argue that the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary, in which case a modification may not be allowed. 

 

I understand the nuances involved.  Regardless of your situation, I can help you achieve your goals.

Law Office of Matt Hughes, PLLC    6701 Democracy Blvd, Suite 300    Bethesda, MD 20817    (202) 596-2528

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