Life can change at any moment, and this means there may come a point where the agreements you signed in your divorce may no longer work for you and your ex, such as child custody or child support. If this happens, you can and should seek a modification so you can better care for yourself and your family. If you’re unsure as to what a modification is or how to get one, the divorce modifications attorneys at The Law Offices of Diron Rutty can help.
What are Modifications?
Modifications are changes that can be made to a divorce agreement after it has been finalized. These modifications can address various aspects of the original agreement, such as child custody and visitation arrangements.
Child Custody Modifications
Child custody refers to the legal and physical responsibility of caring for a child. Child custody can often be one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases.
However, even after an agreement has been reached and finalized, you can file a motion to change the terms later. Some reasons for seeking a child custody modification may include changes in the child’s needs or living arrangements, relocation of one parent, or a significant change in either parent’s circumstances.
Criteria for Seeking a Child Custody Modification
To seek a modification of child custody, certain criteria need to be met. These criteria vary by state, so it’s important to be aware of the law in your home state.
In New York, it must be in the child’s best interests after a substantial change has taken place. Substantial changes may include anything that affects the child’s health, schooling, the stability of their living arrangements, and/or anything that affects the ability of each parent to care for the child.
What Can be Modified in a Child Custody Agreement
In general, any aspect of child custody can be modified post-divorce. This includes:
- Physical custody: Where the child lives
- Legal custody: Who makes decisions for the child
- Visitation schedules: When the non-custodial parent (parent without physical custody) sees the child
Child Support Modifications
Child support refers to the financial support provided by one parent to the other for the care of their child. As with child custody, there may come a time when modifications need to be made to an existing child support agreement. Some reasons for seeking a child support modification include changes in income after a job loss or promotion or changes in the needs of the child.
Criteria for Seeking a Child Support Modification
The criteria for seeking a child support modification also varies by state, but New York has criteria both for changing your child support costs and eliminating it. If you wish to change it, there needs to be/have been:
- At least three years since your original order was last established, modified, or adjusted;
- Either parent’s gross income has changed by 15% or more since the order was last established, modified, or adjusted. A reduction in your income cannot be by your own choice;
- One or more children on your order have been emancipated, which means they have turned 21, married, or joined the military;
- Or the parent who owes child support is incarcerated.
To have your child support order eliminated, there needs to be/have been:
- The parent who owes child support is incarcerated with no chance of parole or is institutionalized;
- The custody agreement for the child has changed;
- Or all the children on your order have been emancipated.
What Can be Modified in a Child Support Agreement
Similar to child custody, any aspect of child support can be modified post-divorce. This includes the amount of support, the frequency of payments, and how long the support will continue. It is important to note that modifications may only be made if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original agreement was reached.
Visitation refers to the time that the non-custodial parent spends with their child after a divorce. Similar to child custody, there may be reasons for seeking modifications to visitation arrangements after a divorce has been finalized.
Criteria for Seeking Visitation Modifications
In New York, the criteria for seeking visitation modifications are similar to those for child custody modifications. The best interests of the child must have changed and any significant changes in circumstances must have occurred when requesting a modification.
What Can be Modified in Visitation
As with child custody, any aspect of visitation can be modified post-divorce. This includes:
- The frequency and duration of visits
- Any specific restrictions or conditions that may have been set in the original agreement
Alimony, also known as spousal support, refers to the financial support provided by one spouse to the other after a divorce. Similar to child support, you can get your spousal support agreement modified to be made to an existing alimony agreement.
Criteria for Seeking Alimony Modifications
The criteria for seeking alimony modifications is similar to the criteria for changing child support:
- There has been a substantial change in circumstances for either spouse
- At least three years have passed since the spousal support agreement was last modified
- There has been a 15% change in either spouse’s income
If the receiving ex-spouse remarries or is living in a cohabitation agreement with another person in a marriage-like relationship, the alimony agreement can be ended.
Seek Modifications with the Help of The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC
If you need modifications made to an existing divorce agreement, you need the experienced family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC. We understand that circumstances can change after a divorce and modifications may be necessary.
Our experienced family law attorneys can guide you through the process of seeking modifications for child custody and visitation arrangements, ensuring that your child’s best interests are always the top priority. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.