Fathers often feel inherently disadvantaged in the family court system, but this often happens because they are unaware of the systems in place that they can use to secure fairer, more reasonable, and more tenable family court orders. If you are a recently divorced father and believe that any element of your family court order is unfair, imbalanced, or untenable in the long term, you still have options. The modification process can allow you to change your family court order in a timely manner.
The modification process is fairly straightforward, and approved changes are implemented almost immediately. If you have encountered any situation that renders a current family court order unacceptable in any way, it’s important to begin your modification process as soon as possible. An experienced family law attorney can help you determine whether recent events constitute solid grounds for requesting a modification of your family court order and guide you through the modification process.
How Does Family Court Order Modification Work?
When a couple divorces and obtains a divorce decree, or when an unmarried couple secures a child support and child custody agreement, the terms contained within these orders must be followed to the letter. While some people violate their family court orders knowingly for spurious reasons, others find themselves unable to follow their family court orders despite willingness to do so. The modification process allows individuals in this situation to request necessary changes, so their family court orders are more reasonable and easier to manage.
The party desiring modification becomes the petitioner in the modification process, and the other party named in their family court order becomes the respondent. The petitioner submits their petition for modification, which must include a clear description of their desired change and their supporting evidence demonstrating why they believe the desired change is necessary. The court formally notifies the respondent of the petition and sets a hearing date. Both parties can speak on the issue, and the judge overseeing the modification hearing will consider all available evidence before deciding whether to approve or deny the requested modification.
Making Your Case for Modification
You may need to petition for modification of your family court order for several possible reasons. Typically, the most commonly requested changes include custody agreement changes, child support changes, and alimony or spousal support changes. If you believe you need to modify any element of your family court order along these lines, call our firm for help. You must prepare to provide evidence that demonstrates the desired changes are necessary and reasonable. If your desired modification would impact your children in any way, it’s vital to prove that the modification would suit your children’s interests better than your current family court order.
An experienced attorney can help you gather evidence and documentation to support your case, and they can also prepare you to make a statement during your modification hearing. All fathers should prepare extensively for these hearings when they seek substantial changes to their family court orders. Depending on the nature and the extent of the changes sought, their ex-spouses or coparents may be willing to cooperate with the requested modification, or they may fight against it vehemently.
Grounds for Modification
You cannot seek to modify your family court order simply because you do not personally agree with the current terms of the order. To succeed with your petition for modification, you must prove that the current terms are unacceptable, unreasonable, or unfeasible for you to uphold. Typically, fathers in the US seek modification of their family court orders for three reasons:
- Child custody. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to change in any family court order. If you believe your current custody terms do not suit your child’s best interests or something has recently happened in your life that renders your current custody terms untenable, call our firm. We can prepare to file a modification petition with your local family court.
- Child support. Whether you pay or receive child support, your current child support terms may no longer be appropriate after a major life event. If you need to reduce the amount of child support you pay or believe your ex should be paying more support, the modification process is the best way to secure this kind of change.
- Alimony. If your divorce order requires you to pay alimony, you may need to submit a petition for modification. This is necessary when you experience a significant change in income or if you believe your ex has engaged in any terminating actions that would disqualify them from receiving future alimony payments.
If you intend to change your custody terms, you should be prepared to offer the strongest possible case proving that your desired changes would better suit your children’s best interests. The family court has a legal responsibility to ensure that all custody orders suit the best interests of the children they affect. If your current custody terms do not satisfy this requirement, or if your coparent has failed to fulfill their responsibilities set forth by your custody order, these issues would likely constitute a solid case for modification.
Many issues may come into play when it comes to child support and spur a father to seek a modification to their current child support terms. When determining child support, the court must review each parent’s finances and determine the amount of financial support they each owe to their children. Then, the court weighs these obligations against their custody rights. Typically, the noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. If you pay child support and lost your job or experienced any other event that impacts your ability to pay, you can ask for help. In this situation, you must petition for modification of your child support obligation to account for this. If you receive child support and believe that your ex should be paying more or that your children’s needs have changed, these issues will also constitute acceptable grounds to seek modification.
As far as alimony is concerned, most alimony arrangements are temporary, and payments continue for a predetermined length of time based on the time the marriage lasted. The longer the couple was married and one spouse was financially dependent on the other, the longer alimony payments continue. However, alimony usually ends if the recipient engages in terminating actions such as remarrying or cohabitating with a new partner. If you believe your alimony agreement requires modification or termination, speak with your lawyer to determine whether you should file a petition for modification.
An experienced attorney can help you navigate any modification proceedings, regardless of whether they apply to child support, child custody, alimony, or a combination of issues. Reach out to an experienced family law attorney today to get answers to your most urgent legal questions concerning modifications in family court.