Child custody and support orders are carefully worked out to meet the best needs of the children. But the court understands that life changes all the time. You may have lost your high-paying job or may be considering a relocation. These are only two common reasons why you may need a modification to your agreement.
If both parties agree to a change in custody arrangements it may be very simple. As far as the courts are concerned, however, the process is the same as the one which brought the original agreement to bear. It is not a process which should be done casually. That is why an experienced family law attorney is vital to making sure that the new agreement works for everyone.
Always the child’s best interests
As you contemplate a modification to your divorce agreement, you may be tempted to focus on the changes in your own life and what you need. The courts are not concerned with that outside of how it affects your relationship with your child and what it means to them. If they have different needs as they grow up, this will be taken into consideration as well.
Any proposed changes to an agreement will be looked at by the courts with one main consideration – the best interest of the child. This is no different than the initial agreement, which will be also carefully considered in the process.
Be clear on your goals
You probably have experienced a number of life changes since your divorce. Some of these have some bearing on what you need in a new modification and some do not. It’s important to focus on your child first and how your changes are affecting your relationship and their life.
If you do need to relocated, for example, the daily schedule may change dramatically. Going back to school may make it more difficult for you to maintain the flexibility you had before. All of your changes need to be put into specific requests for your new agreement. This will speed up the negotiation process and make your intentions clear to the court.
What may not be enough
Some of your life changes may not reach the standard necessary for a modified agreement. For example, if you are forced to take a lower-paying job you may want to have a reduction in your monthly support. If the other party agrees to this it should be acceptable – but if they do not it may be very difficult.
The court is going to carefully consider any modification, but the changes have to be significant. It is not a process that is started lightly.
Talk to an attorney
If you are facing a number of life changes which make your divorce agreement difficult to sustain, it’s best to talk to an experienced family law attorney. They can tell you if you have a good reason to seek a modification as well as how to frame your needs in terms that the courts will consider.
Remember that your relationship and the best needs of your child come first. If you keep that in mind it will all work out.