A party to a divorce may request that the terms of a judgment (also called a decree) be modified to change the amount of child support or modifiable maintenance (also called alimony) paid by a parent or ex-spouse. Under Missouri law, the party requesting the change must show changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms of the judgment unreasonable. Additionally, a judgment may be modified to change the custody and visitation arrangements with a child. The parent asking for the change must show that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or his custodian and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.
Located in Springfield, Missouri, Cope Litigation & Transactions LC serves family law clients throughout Southwest Missouri, including Greene and Christian Counties. We are strong, knowledgeable, and compassionate advocates for our family law clients before, during, and after litigation. If you have questions about modifying your divorce decree, we welcome you to contact us to schedule a consultation.
The most common reason for a divorce decree modification is to increase or decrease the amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent. The court determines whether the amount of child support should increase or decrease from the existing child support amount by 20% or more. Many factors can affect the computed amount of child support, including a loss or increase of income, changes in payments of medical insurance and work-related childcare expenses, and changes in the custody or visitation schedule for the child. If the amount of child support increases or decreases by 20% or more, the court will probably decide that the change of circumstances is a sufficient reason to change the amount of child support.
The amount of child support or maintenance (also called alimony or spousal support) also can change when there has been a significant change in the needs of the person requiring support, if the cost of living increases, if the person needing support has increased medical costs or becomes disabled, if that person has married or remarried, or if the support laws have changed. The changed circumstances clearly must be substantial and continuing so as to make the terms of the judgment unreasonable.
Often a non-custodial parent requests a change of custody of the child. The reasons for the request may include: the custodial parent is alienating the child from the other parent, the child does not want to live with the custodial parent, the child now wants to live with the custodial parent, the custodial parent is allowing the child to live with the non-custodial parent while collecting child support, or the custodial parent is unreasonably limiting the parenting time of the other parent with the child. For practical purposes, the non-custodial parent must present clear and convincing evidence of the change in circumstances of the child or the custodial parent so that the court believes that the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.
Under Missouri law, a parent cannot relocate a child’s residence without giving the other parent at least 60 days' notice prior to the relocation. Among other items to be mentioned in the notice, the notice must give the intended new address and reason for the proposed relocation. The notice also must give a proposal for a revised custody schedule or visitation with the child.
If the other parent objects to the proposed relocation, that parent has 30 days after receipt of the notice to file a motion with the court to prevent the relocation. Thereafter, the parent seeking relocation must file a response to the motion within 14 days and include a counter-affidavit setting forth the facts in support of the relocation as well as a proposed parenting plan for the child.
If you want to change the terms of your divorce — or if your ex-wife or ex-husband has filed a motion to change custody or support — contact Cope Litigation & Transactions for a consultation. Based in Springfield, we serve all of Southwest Missouri. With over 30 years of experience, we will advise you regarding your legal options and advocate for your interests. Read more about why clients choose to work with us.