What is a Petition to Modify?
This is a Petition that can only be filed after orders have been entered by the Court. You can Petition the Court for a modification of legal decision-making, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, and pretty much any issue contained in the orders you are currently following.
If you have children you need to file a Response that the modification of the issues related to your children.
If you do not have children you will need a Response that does not include issues regarding children.
What You Need To Know
To Petition the Court to modify issues such as legal decision-making and parenting time, you are in most cases required to wait at least 1 year from the time the current order was entered. However, if there is an emergency situation that you believe warrants a modification before the year has expired, you may file the Petition to Modify. When attempting to modify these issues, you must state what the “continuing and substantial change in circumstances” (why you are filing this Petition) are and provide your supportive documentation for the same. The Court will typically set a hearing on this matter to hear both sides’ positions as to why the Court should or should not modify the issue. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to convince the Court of any emergency; however, you may file and state your positions as to the changes in circumstances and what your concerns are.
If you wish to modify legal decision-making, keep in mind that this type of modification gives the Court the ability to change an order saying that parties have who have joint legal decision-making (where all decisions are made together) to sole legal decision-making where only one party makes the overall decisions regarding a child or children. If someone is given sole legal decision-making, the other parent still has the right to have certain information regarding the child; however, the parent with sole legal decision-making does not have to discuss their decisions with the other parent before making them. A party can also request a modification from sole legal decision-making to joint legal decision-making.
For the issues of financial support, you do not have to wait 1 year if your financial situation changes and you can show the Court that the same has happened. You must indicate what circumstances have changed (lost your job, got a raise, took a pay decrease, medical benefits costs changes, childcare costs changed, one child is now 18 and graduated from high school so the current amount is inappropriate, the primary residence of a child changed, etc.). You may be able to modify child support via a simplified procedure if certain factors are present. If not, you will have to file the stander Petition to Modify Child Support.
What you Need to Complete Your Petition to Modify
- Your current order that you are asking the Court to modify
- Information regarding your children
- Where your children currently reside and what type of parenting time schedule you have with the other party
- How much the other party is paying in child support
- How much the other party is paying in spousal maintenance
- Current figures for medical/dental/vision costs
- Current amounts paid for childcare, extra education expenses (private school), extraordinary expenses (gifted programs, special needs)
- Current pay stubs and income tax returns
Depending on the case at hand, there may be other documents that will be necessary to determine the appropriateness of your specific modification. This will be determined as the case progresses.
To modify any type of issue related to the current orders, it is important to make sure you can support your positions. You need texts, emails, reports from doctors/schools, etc. for legal decision-making and parenting time issues. In the matter of financial support, make sure you can indicate what has been paid, what has not and whether you have made attempts to get the paying party to comply. The Court will then decide what to do. If the other party does not agree with the Petition to Modify, they can file a Response and state their positions as to why the modification is inappropriate and not in the best interests of the child(ren).
The best interests of the children is probably the primary factor considered by the Court when entering any order involving children and definitely when considering changing the current order which the Court has already said is in the best interests of the child(ren). You always have to consider the issue of what have been the “continuing and substantial change in circumstances” when filing any modification. The Court will look for this term and then your reasons for why you believe there has been a change.
If you would like more information regarding the Petition to Modify and the modification process, you can sign up for a free Access Legal Account now!