We Pursue Or Challenge Modifications Of Your Divorce Decree
To ask the court to change your alimony, child support or child custody order at any point after your divorce is final, your attorney must file a motion with the court. The motion must demonstrate that there has been a material change in circumstances that warrants a modification of the order.
And, in the case of an order dealing with child support or custody, the motion also must explain how the proposed modification would serve the best interests of the child. Our Rockville and Frederick family law attorneys at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., have many years of experience in pursuing and challenging requests for modifications of alimony, child support, child visitation and child custody.
The Process Of Modifying A Child Support Order
Either the parent who pays child support or the parent who receives it can ask the court to modify the support order at any time before the child’s 18th birthday. To win a modification, you must show that the circumstances that existed at the time of the last child support order have changed materially. There is no limit on how often you can request a modification.
In Maryland, if either parent’s income has increased or decreased substantially, by 25% or more, the court is likely to grant a modification of the child support order. If the child’s needs change dramatically – because of illness or disability, for example – the court also is likely to increase the support. The mere passage of time also can justify an increase because clothes, food and other essentials cost more as the child gets older.
Support can be reduced if, for example, the custodial parent receives a large inheritance, wins the lottery or gets a big pay raise. It can also be reduced if the noncustodial parent becomes unemployed, disabled or imprisoned. Any modification of a support order should be done formally, through the court. It is not prudent to make an oral agreement with your ex-spouse to increase or decrease the support. Consult our divorce lawyers at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., if you are considering a modification of a child support order.
What If My Ex-Spouse Has Chosen Not To Work?
An ex-spouse cannot avoid a support obligation by intentionally failing to make money. Maryland law calls this “voluntary impoverishment.” If the court finds that your ex-spouse has voluntarily impoverished himself or herself, the court will set the amount of support at the level that would be appropriate if they were working. In doing so, the court will consider your ex-spouse’s health, education, work history and efforts to find work. The court can impute income to a spouse whom it finds is voluntarily impoverished.
Maryland courts do not consider being in jail or prison to be voluntary impoverishment – unless the ex-spouse committed a crime just to avoid paying support. Support payments must resume when the imprisonment ends.
Can A Child Custody Order Be Modifies In Maryland?
The parent who wants to have a child custody order changed has the burden of persuading the court that it should be modified. Courts favor stability for children, so the judge is unlikely to disturb the current custody arrangement unless you can show that the current situation is no longer in the best interests the child.
A child who is 16 or older can seek a change in custody on their own. But, again, the child would have the burden of proving that a change of custody would serve their best interests.
Contact Us About Modifications Of Your Divorce Orders
Our family law attorneys at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., represent those who are seeking or opposing a modification of an alimony, child support or child custody order. Call us at 301-850-7234 or contact us online today. Our offices are in Frederick and Rockville.