Experienced Attorneys Creating Court Modifications in Kingston
Divorce and custody are tricky topics, and when existing, hard-won arrangements are thrown into jeopardy, the end result can be a big headache for the party primarily affected. Whether you are concerned about child support, custody arrangements, or alimony payments, it is imperative that you have top quality, qualified family law attorneys on your side to help support and look out for your interests and offer you the best advice and assistance for your situation and circumstances.
What Modifications Can Be Made To Child Support Or Custody Agreements?
Paying child support is a legal requirement, and any change or modification does not negate the obligation of the parent to pay. Similarly, any custody arrangements which have been put in place by courts will focus primarily on the needs, interests, and welfare of the child in question, and so modifications will have to be appropriate and in line with the existing agreements.
Most arrangements are made during the actual process of divorce. During this period, the custody arrangements are finalized – by a court if parents cannot come to a mutual agreement – and any child support or alimony orders will be put in place. Unless there are significant changes in circumstance, it is expected that these orders will be adhered to without issue.
Before deciding to grant a modification after the divorce process has completed, the court will be required to evaluate and consider a range of factors. As a general rule, the modification will only be agreed to if one party has experienced a significant change in their financial status, career, or existing family situation. Such exceptions may include:
- A change in the needs of the child
- An increase or decrease in the salary of either parent
- A parent moving out of state
- One party failing to adhere to court-ordered custody or support plan
- A dependence on drugs or alcohol for one party
- Evidence of violent behavior or abuse
Modification of an existing legal order should always be overseen by a legal professional; they will have the knowledge and experience to navigate the legal system, and they can work to help you understand the options available to you.
What If I Need To Modify My Payments?
Sometimes changes in employment or financial circumstances mean that payments may need to be adjusted or modified, and this change will need to be overseen by the court. Once again, though the payment amounts involved may change, the obligation of the parent to offer financial support does not disappear.
In order for modifications to be made, one party will be required to file a petition with the court. This should state the desire to request a change in the amount paid, usually due to a change in employment, or some alternative aspect which has caused a significant alteration to income.
The law states that there needs to be a ‘significant variance’ in the amounts before any chance will be authorized. Significant variance is defined as being:
- A change of at least 15% in the ARP’s annual gross income
- A change in the number of children the ARP is legally responsible for supporting
- A child named supported by the order who becomes disabled
- Both parents agreeing to an order to modify support by mutual discussion – these changes must be in compliance with child support guidelines – and both parents will need to complete worksheets with the newly agreed order
- There must be a change of at least 15% between the amount of the current support order and the proposed amount of the paying parent’s pro-rata share of the basic child support obligation, in the event that the current support is $100 or greater per month and at least $15 of the current support is less than $100 per month.
In the event that the parent is a low-income provider, the significant variance may be altered somewhat. A low-income provider is defined as being someone who:
- Is not willfully/voluntarily unemployed or underemployed when working at their full capacity according to their education and experience
- Has an Adjusted Gross Income at or below the federal poverty level for a single adult
If a parent fits this definition, the requirements are slightly altered; there must be at least a 7.5% change between the current order and the proposed new modified support amount.
How Can I Make Sure I Am Protected?
Court modifications can be confusing, and there is a wide range of factors you can consider. To protect yourself, your family, and your finances, it is best to seek the services of a qualified and experienced legal professional. Here at Davis Law Firm, we have years of familiarity in dealing with the court and legal systems and have advocated for countless clients while they were struggling through court modifications to existing agreements. Our family law lawyers have the experience and compassion that your family needs to get through those tough times.
We can help you. Reach out to us today at (865) 354-3333 and see how we can help to clear the path and work with you to achieve the outcome you deserve.