Circumstances change over time and your child custody or support plan may no longer work for you or your co-parent. Filing for an order modification with the court can help you adjust the terms of your custody and support order to reflect your current situation more accurately.
At Conner & Robert, PLLC, we have the tools to help you modify your child custody or support order.
Why Would I Want to Modify My Custody or Support Order?
The most common reason to modify a custody or support order is if one parent experiences a "substantial change in circumstances" that makes it impossible for them to realistically comply with the terms of the original custody or support order.
Some examples of a substantial change in circumstances include:
- You lose your job, making it impossible for you to pay the required amount of child support;
- Your child's other parent remarries, reducing the need for you to support the child;
- You need to start paying for another child support order, placing additional financial pressure on you;
- You or your child's other parent wish to move, requiring a change in the custody order;
- You believe your child's other parent represents a danger to your child, requiring a change in the custody order;
- You or your child's other parent becomes incarcerated, requiring a change to the custody order;
- Your child's other parent has a partner that represents a danger to your child.
These are just some of the reasons you may want to change your child support order. If you think your custody or support order should be changed for a different reason, you should call the Tennessee Child Support Division customer service line. An agent will discuss your child support order with you and your reasons for wanting a modification.
You should also seek a consultation from a lawyer (like one of our attorneys here at Conner & Roberts, PLLC). We can help you decide whether you want to proceed with an order modification case before committing to filing your case with the court.
How Can I Modify My Custody or Support Order?
First, you should read the parenting plan you drafted with your child's other parent when the custody arrangement was first established. Parenting plans often have specific provisions for custody modifications in them.
To modify an order, you'll need to file a modification case with the court that initially issued the custody or support order.
To modify a support order, at a minimum, there must be a difference of at least 15% (7.5% for low-income families) between the current amount of child support required and the amount detailed in the modification case. That means you must justify the need for that 15% or 7.5% difference in your case. Modifying a support order also involves both parties sharing income information with the court, so the court can accurately review the need for a support modification.
Custody modifications vary on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances of the case. If you wish to modify a custody order, discuss the potential modification with your lawyer to decide the best way to proceed with your case.
If you and your child's parent both agree that an existing custody or support order needs modification (and agree on how to modify it), you can file an administrative modification or agreed order. This process typically involves drafting an agreement for the new order with the other party, which you then both sign. After both parties sign the modified order, the court will approve it.
If you disagree, you may need to gather evidence supporting your case and attend a hearing with your child's other parent. During the hearing, the court will examine your position and evidence before deciding whether the current order should be modified.
At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our lawyers can usher you through the order modification process, building a comprehensive case that increases your chances of receiving a positive outcome from the court.