There’s one thing that’s almost certain about life: circumstances
will change, and possibly change fairly frequently. This means that a
divorce agreement which was carefully crafted and fair when it was signed
most likely won’t stay that way over time. Fortunately, the terms
of your divorce agreement are not set in stone and can be modified later
to ensure they remain effective and fair to you and your ex while keeping
your child’s best interests first.
Qualifying for a Modification
In order to be eligible to receive a modification for an existing order,
the courts will usually ask the requesting parent to show a “substantial
change in circumstances.” This principle goes two ways: it encourages
stability in the home, and it prevents the court from becoming burdened
with unnecessary and frequent modification requests.
What are these “substantial changes?” Here are a few common examples.
If you plan on moving a short distance, such as a house across town, then
you won’t need the court’s permission to do so. But moving
a longer distance, such as out of state, will impact your ability to spend
time with your child. Depending on your custody order, you may be required
to get the court’s permission to make this move. Part of getting
the courts permission involves re-working your custody order and visitation
schedule, particularly in a joint-custody situation.
Change in Employment
Get a new job? Great! But what happens when your new gig places your shift
directly over where you would have otherwise had your visitation time?
This is a substantial change which allows you to petition for a modification.
A change in family status can also warrant a change in child custody.
When one spouse re-marries, their new partner must also be dedicated to
the best interests and upbringing of the child. Otherwise, they may risk
losing custody and being limited to visitation hours only. This isn’t
normally an issue, but if a new step-parent is abusive towards the child,
then it’s not uncommon for parents to seek modifications immediately
to protect them.
Obtaining a Modification
Once a divorce is finalized, either parent can choose to file for a modification
of either custody or visitation terms (or both) at any time. Modifying
these terms does
not require the approval of the court, however it’s strongly advised
that you do have the court approve the order in order to make it enforceable
should your ex choose to disagree with the modification at a later date.
It’s rare for the court to reject a modification proposal, so long
as it keeps the child’s best interests first.
If one spouse refuses to go along with the modification request, then the
parent who wishes to get the modification may petition the court, who
can then modify the agreement despite the other spouse’s objections,
so long as the new circumstances are not intended to interfere with the
other parent’s rights and visitation ability, and have the best
interests of the child at heart.
If you need assistance filing for a modification, call
Moskowitz Law Group, LLC today at! With more than 50 years of combined experience, our team can
put our knowledge and ability to work for you to help you obtain the result
you are looking for in your family law case. We provide effective and
compassionate counsel that places your needs and goals at the forefront
of each case, and we work hard to help you accomplish them with integrity
For more information on obtaining a modification or assistance with the
petition process, call Moskowitz Law Group, LLC today and receive a free