Modification of Court Orders
Generally speaking, a final divorce decree is meant to be just that, final. Yet, while the divorce itself may be final, the couple who have divorced are often subject to ongoing court orders regarding matters such as child custody, child support and alimony. These orders may also be intended to be final, but circumstances sometimes change so that at least one of the former spouses would like to see them adjusted. This often requires going to court and litigating the matter, so having representation from experienced and successful divorce lawyers is crucial. The Connecticut family law attorneys at The Upton Law Firm represent clients who are seeking or challenging post-divorce modification of court orders.
Child Support Modification – Substantial Change in Circumstances
In order to get the court to modify child support in Connecticut, the party requesting the modification must be able to prove a substantial change in circumstances that would justify the modification. Such a change would generally be an up or down change in either parent’s income, or an increase or decrease in the child’s needs. For instance, if your order is 15% higher or lower than what the amount would be under the guidelines, you may be in a position to have the support order modified to be more in line with the guideline amount.
Child Custody Modification – Best Interests of the Child
The standard for modifying a custody order in Connecticut is the same as the standard when initially determining custody – what decision is in the best interests of the child or children? It is not necessary to prove a substantial change in circumstances; rather the court will focus on whether a modification of custody would be beneficial or detrimental to the child. When a child enters school for the first time, or enters puberty or transitions into high school, these are typically times when a court may see that changing primary custody to a different parent makes sense. Another situation requiring a modification would be if one parent wishes to move-away or relocate far away from his or her current residence, or even out of state or out of the country. Such a move would most likely require a modification of the current custody and visitation arrangement.
Typically, the paying party may seek to modify or terminate alimony if the payor becomes unemployed or suffers a large decrease in income, or if the receiving party becomes self-supporting or moves in with another partner. Alimony is generally modifiable by the court, unless it was made non-modifiable in the original order. In a divorce decree, any alimony order can be made non-modifiable as to duration, amount, or both.
Property Settlement Modifications
The distribution of property in a divorce is meant to be final when it occurs and is generally not modifiable post-divorce. However, if some extraordinary circumstances are shown to exist – for instance, if a spouse during the divorce hid assets from the court – then a modification of the property settlement may be justified. Talk to your attorney if you think the original property distribution involved some sort of fraud, mistake or failure to fully disclose financial assets and liabilities.
Help with Post-Divorce Modifications in Connecticut
For help with a post-divorce modification of court orders, whether you are the party seeking or opposing a modification, contact The Upton Law Firm for assistance from a team of knowledgeable and experienced Connecticut family law attorneys.