Changes and Modifications to Custody or Support

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

“In our case, a decision to pursue a custody modification was extremely difficult because of the complexity of the situation and the volatility of the parties.  Don was extremely knowledgable and handled the sensitivity of our case with incredible professionalism.” —Brian and Barb

Changing custody

The welfare of children experiencing divorce is a great concern for all of us.  For the court to change custody, the judge must be convinced that there has been a significant change in circumstances, and that changing custody is in the best interests of the child.

If the custodial home threatens the child’s safety or welfare, the court will consider a change of custody or some sort of intervention to protect the children.  Drug use, abuse, abandonment, failure to send the child to school, interference with the child’s relationship with the other parent or extended family, and failure to provide health care are all issues that the court would want to hear about.

If joint custody was awarded and is not working because the parents cannot reach agreements, then it might be best to award sole custody to one parent to diffuse tension.

As children grow, their interests and needs change.  If a child is spending the majority of his time with the non-custodial parent, then a change of custody may make sense.

People who lose custody of their children are not always bad people or bad parents.  The court tries to determine which parent can provide the most stability and care. Access to siblings, grandparents, extended family, godparents and school friends is important.  When a child’s home and family have fallen apart, they are greatly reassured by extended family relationships.  Any radical changes, no matter how positive they may seem, only add to the child’s insecurity.

Child support modifications

Child support is calculated by the State of Oregon based on income, expenses and the special needs of children.  When a parent remarries and has additional children to support, that can affect support levels.

Given that support may continue for up to 18 years, it is reasonable to assume that income levels for both parents will change during that time.  It is only fair that children be supported to the best of their parent’s abilities.  It is useful at the time of divorce to anticipate future expenses for education, travel and health care, and to put those agreements in writing.

Visitation changes

To increase your amount of visitation time does not require proof that there is anything wrong with the custodial parent.  As children get older their interests change and they may wish more time with the non-custodial parent.

Remarriage

If the custodial parent remarries and has increased income, the income of the new spouse is not a consideration in determining child support.  If the person paying support remarries and has additional children, that could affect support levels.

Relocating with children

It is common for people to want to move following a divorce.  Generally, if the move exceeds 60 miles the court can deny such a request unless the parties have a Parenting Plan that ensures continued access to the children.   The courts tend to want to preserve stability in the lives of children, including their relationship to their school, neighborhood and extended family.

I have won the right for clients to move out of state to further their careers when the non-custodial parent’s actions and involvement were harmful to the children, or when the move clearly was in the best interests of the child.