Making Changes to Support & Custody Agreements
Sept. 29, 2022
Working through the details of a child custody and support agreement is never easy. In fact, these are often the most difficult, emotional, and contentious parts of divorce. You may both want what is best for the children but have different thoughts about what “best” is.
Child support and custody agreements are court orders and as such, must be adhered to. However, that does not mean they cannot be modified by the court if there are reasons to do so later. The court understands that your life’s circumstances at the time these agreements were forged may change down the road.
The Berger Firm has been serving family law clients in Covington, Kentucky, as well as Northern Kentucky, including Newport and Florence, and the Greater Cincinnati area for more than 50 years. We can help if you want to explore modifications to your existing child support and custody order.
Are There Valid Reasons to Modify a Child Support Arrangement?
Any modification to an existing child support order requires a “material change” in circumstances. Material changes, by definition, are substantial and permanent, at least for the foreseeable future. Here are a few areas where material changes in the circumstances of a parent could justify modification:
A change in the financial situation of either parent can warrant a revision to the order. In Kentucky, an increase or decrease of 15% or more in a parent’s income is significant enough. However, if the existing order is less than one year old, the threshold is 25%.
Changes in the child custody order may be enough to modify the support agreement. Child support is based in part on the assumption that the parent with primary custody is providing most of the financial support, which is why the noncustodial parent is required to pay child support. If those roles change, it could warrant modification.
If a parent becomes disabled, it could change the custody arrangement as well as the income upon which the support order is based.
The birth of a new baby for the parent paying child support could reduce their obligation to the child from the previous marriage since that parent has another child to which they are obligated to provide financial support.
Remarriage of the parent receiving child support can affect the sum received. See the section below for more information.
What Is the Process for Modifying Child Support in Kentucky?
The parent requesting a modification of child support must file a motion to modify with the court. It is wise to consult with a child support attorney to determine whether the change in circumstances is likely to warrant a modification and to have the attorney draft and file the motion to modify.
If the parent paying support voluntarily leaves a job or takes a job to earn less money in an effort to decrease their income enough to lower their financial obligation, the court will impute their income. That means the court will base the amount of support ordered on what the parent should be earning, not what they may be earning at the time.
Are There Valid Reasons to Modify a Child Custody Agreement?
As with child support, a modification of an existing child custody order requires a substantial change in circumstances. This usually involves major life changes that alter a parent’s ability to adhere to the existing arrangement. Here are a few examples:
The custodial parent might re-enter the workforce, reducing the amount of time spent with the children and creating a need for the noncustodial parent to spend more time with them.
Either parent may need to relocate due to a new job, remarriage, or other reason. This could necessitate a major change in the visitation schedule.
A parent may lose their job which means they can’t pay the ordered child support but can spend more time with the children.
A parent may not be adhering to the visitation plan which leaves the other parent spending more time with the children than what is reflected in the custody agreement.
What Is the Impact of Remarriage on Child Custody and Support?
The fact that a parent remarries does not eliminate that parent’s financial responsibility for their children. Remarriage alone does not warrant a change to the existing child support or child custody agreements. However, specific circumstances related to remarriage might.
The new spouse’s income can be considered in child support. It could substantially decrease the custodial parent’s household and living expenses when those are shared with a new spouse. Also, the birth of a new child with the new spouse could reduce the child support obligation and change the visitation schedule.
Compassionate Legal Action
If you believe an existing child support or child custody agreement should be changed, or if the other parent intends to file a motion to modify, talk to us at The Berger Firm. The court is always motivated to do what it believes is in the best interests of the child. We will be motivated by not only your child’s best interests, but yours as well.
The prospect of such important changes can be stressful, so turn to The Berger Firm in Covington, Kentucky, for help. Call our office today to schedule a consultation.