Typically, the party seeking the modification must show that a substantial and continuing change of circumstances has occurred since the entry of the original order.
Examples of such reasons include:
- Sudden and serious illnesses
- Job loss
- Change in income
- Relocation to another state
- Express preference of a child to spend more time with one parent. This is particularly important at the age of 14 and older.
- Substance abuse, child neglect or another factor affecting the welfare of the child/children.
Preparing for Modification
Typically, a spouse should wait a minimum of six months after the final divorce judgment before asking the court for a modification. The requesting spouse’s behavior and preparation during the waiting period are crucial to the success of the request. Be certain there are no late support payments. Designated schedules of custody time with children must be met, and an active role in rearing the children should be visible to the court.
The burden of proof lies on the person asking for the modification. Thus information should be gathered for the attorney and the court. If a spouse has lost their job proof must be presented. If an illness is involved, the court will expect medical bills, dates of doctor visits, and the like.
Good behavior prior to an attempt for modification should include a sincere attempt to resolve the grievance amicably. The best way to achieve this is through written correspondence, which will provide a record admissible to the court. Please keep in mind that even if both spouses amicably agree to a change to the order, a Stipulation must be drawn and filed with the court.
This is especially important regarding child custody or support modifications.