Can I Make Post-Divorce Modifications To Custody And Child Support Agreements
As part of divorce proceedings, child support payment and custody agreements must be reached with regard to any minor children of the divorcing couple. These agreements are court-ordered and agreed to by both parties, so they may seem set in stone, but luckily, they are not. While these agreements must be honored until they are formally modified by the court, there are avenues to modify them. Many couples find that their financial and living circumstances have changed significantly even a year following their divorce and that a modification makes sense and would be in the best interest of the child. For instance, one parent may have to move further away for work, so a modification to the custody schedule would make sense. In other cases, medical costs for the child may increase, or a parent may suffer an injury impacting their income or ability to care for the child. All of these cases are common and can result in modifications to the existing agreements.
How Do I Modify an Alabama Custody or Child Support Agreement?
Ideally, the best place to start in modifying a child support or custody agreement is in coming to a mutual agreement with your ex-spouse. If you and your former spouse are able to mutually come to a new agreement, a lawyer can draft the modification and petition the court for a new agreement reflecting this change. In most cases where both parents agree to the change, courts will honor the modification and grant the order. However, you may hit roadblocks if the requested modification violates Alabama’s child support guidelines. In this case, you will need to justify to the judge why the agreed-upon amount makes sense given the circumstances and demonstrate that the child or children will be able to be adequately supported on the amount stipulated.
What if My Ex-Spouse and I Can’t Agree?
If you and your former spouse are unable to mutually come to an agreement on modification, then you can petition the court to make the determination for you. The court requires that there has been a material change in circumstances in order to grant a modification to an existing agreement. This material change must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court by the parent requesting the change. For instance, if the child-support-paying parent now earns substantially more (at least 10% more than when the original agreement was made), the other parent can petition the court to increase the amount of child support payments proportionately. The petitioning parent must be able to prove this increase in income. Additionally, if the child-support-paying parent is now caring for the child more than was originally agreed upon, this can also impact the amount of child support owed, or can create a need to revisit the custody agreement.
Talk to a Birmingham Modifications Lawyer
If you need changes made to your child support or custody agreements, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced Birmingham modifications lawyer. Contact Peeples Law to schedule a consultation today and find out how we can help you protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome.