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Home > Family Law Guide > Modifying Child Custody and Child Support Orders

MODIFYING CHILD CUSTODY AND CHILD SUPPORT AND ORDERS

After the divorce is finalized, changed circumstances may support a modification of the custody or support order. To obtain a modification, the requesting party must show a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. The modification must again be determined to be in the best interest of the child. Courts have broad discretion in deciding whether a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred such that the child custody order should be changed. Some relevant changes that may be considered by the court include: a change in residency by one parent, a change in the time the child spends with one parent, and a change in the child's academic, social, and/or physical development.

The child's preference for a change of residence or custody will not, by itself, constitute a sufficient cause for modification. Even if a child's feelings are very strong, the child's preference will be just one factor. If the child is older, the court will give more weight to the child's preference. The court may well question the child's motive or inquire as to whether inducements have been made by the proposed custodial or residential parent.

As a recipient of child support, you may be considering asking for an increase due to an increase in your child's needs. As a party obligated to pay child support, you may be considering requesting a decrease in the amount you pay due to a change in circumstances regarding your job. With respect to modification of child support orders, a presumption exists that a change in the Form 14 child support calculation of 20% or more constitutes a substantial and continuing change. This is only a presumption and can be rebutted by other evidence.

If you are considering filing a motion to modify child support or custody, or if you have been served with a motion to modify, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.

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