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What if I need to modify my divorce order?

Modifying a divorce order can be important for either former spouse as they encounter changes in their lives from when the original divorce order was issued. It is important for them to be familiar with when and how they may be able to seek a child support or child custody modification or otherwise modify their divorce order.

Grounds for asking for a custody order modification

Either spouse can request a modification of their original divorce order. There may be certain requirements to meet, including timelines, that they should be aware of. Divorce settlement agreement-related issues divorced couples may wish to modify can include:

  • Child custody change including a request for sole or joint residential custody;
  • An increase in parenting time or visitation;
  • A revision to a parenting plan which can include changes to pickups, overnights or holidays;
  • Relocations request out of state with the children;
  • An increase in child support which may be based on a new job, promotion or the needs of the child;
  • A decrease in child support which may be based on a job loss or a change in parenting time;
  • Emancipation of a child or a request to terminate child support; or
  • A request to terminate alimony based on the recipient spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation following the divorce.

Factors that influence a modification request

Modification requests may be granted based on a significant change in circumstances for either the parent or the child. A significant change in circumstances could be the loss of a job or an increase in the child’s healthcare needs. In general, modification requests that impact children will need to be in the best interests of the child. The parent requesting the change should be prepared to demonstrate how the change is best for the child. Keeping these considerations in mind, it is helpful for parents and former spouses to be familiar with how requests to modify their divorce order are handled by the family law system.