Navigating a child custody determination is never easy, and it is not uncommon for parents to walk away with their family court orders feeling that their custody terms are unfair or one-sided. Luckily, family law provides a vehicle for modifying your child custody agreement under certain conditions. If you believe that your child custody agreement requires renegotiation, speak with an experienced Kansas City, MO divorce attorney as soon as possible about your situation.
Modifying a custody agreement is not easy, but it is possible under the right circumstances and with proper legal counsel. Your attorney can help you understand the modification process and how it will apply to your specific situation, and if you have solid grounds for petitioning for modification, the process may be much simpler and easier than you might expect.
What Is Modification?
Whenever the family court of Kansas City, MO rules on child custody, the court has a legal duty to uphold the best interests of the child or children that the custody agreement will affect. When a parent petitions the court for modification of their child custody agreement, they must demonstrate how the current custody agreement fails to align with the child’s best interests, or they must display newly discovered information and evidence that the court should have considered during the initial custody determination.
The modification process is fairly straightforward. The petitioning parent will submit their petition for modification to the family court, and the court will, in turn, notify the other parent of the petition and set a hearing date. At this hearing, both parents will have the opportunity to make their case for or against modification of the order in question.
If you intend to file a petition for modification, gather as much supporting evidence and documentation as possible to ensure your petition is as compelling as it can possibly be. If you are on the receiving end of a notice of petition for modification and do not agree with the petitioner’s reasoning for requesting the modification of your support order, call our firm. It’s vital to work closely with your attorney to build a solid case against the petitioner’s request.
How Can I Alter My Custody Agreement?
It’s possible to modify your child custody agreement in many different ways, as long as you can prove that your proposed modification suits the best interests of your children more than the current custody order. Some of the ways in which you can potentially modify your custody agreement include:
- Petitioning the court to expand your own custody rights.
- Requesting the court alters your custody agreement in light of recent changes in your child’s life.
- Petitioning for a material change to your existing custody or visitation schedule.
- Petitioning the court for a change to your child support This may be necessary after the loss of a job or the discovery of a medical condition that will require long-term, expensive medical treatment.
- Adding new terms and conditions to your existing family court order. For example, if you have had problems with your ex adhering to your custody agreement, you may petition for more carefully defined rights and responsibilities to reduce the occurrence of such discrepancies.
- Requesting a change to your custody agreement due to an imminent threat against your child’s health and safety.
- Relocation. If you or your coparent decide to move, this may inherently change the conditions of your custody arrangement depending on how far you or they intend to relocate.
These are some of the most commonly cited reasons for modification of family court orders. If your unique situation reflects any of these scenarios, consult your Kansas City, MO divorce attorney as soon as possible to begin work on your modification petition.
How Can an Attorney Help?
While filing a petition for modification of your family court order may seem like a relatively straightforward process, it is always best to work with an experienced Kansas City, MO family law attorney when you decide to undergo the modification process. Ideally, you should choose the same attorney who represented you in your divorce and/or original custody determination as they will already be familiar with many of the details of your case and can provide more individualized representation.
Regardless of whether you are hiring a new attorney or working with a divorce lawyer who previously represented you, your legal team will help you draft your petition for modification to make it as compelling as possible. The petition will likely include documentation that supports your claim, such as an increased need for child support from a noncustodial parent or evidence that your coparent has engaged in behavior that qualifies for termination of their parental rights or custody rights.
The hearing for your modification should be a fairly simple process, but having legal counsel by your side will make it much easier to navigate and can allow you to approach the situation with greater confidence. Your attorney can provide valuable guidance for navigating your modification hearing so that you obtain the changes you seek in your custody agreement.
Fighting a Petition for Modification
An experienced Kansas City, MO divorce attorney can also be tremendously helpful if you receive a notice that your coparent has filed a petition for modification and that their proposed modification is unreasonable or fails to align with your children’s best interests. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence necessary for proving that the proposed modification does not suit your children’s best interests and may even help you create a counter-proposal that alters your existing agreement with more favorable terms.
Ultimately, the family court of Kansas City, MO offers the modification process because the court recognizes that a child’s needs can easily change unexpectedly at virtually any time. The modification process is relatively straightforward, but it is still best to secure legal representation before filing your petition for modification or when you receive notification that your child’s coparent has filed a petition for modification. Contact an experienced Kansas City, MO family law attorney as soon as possible when you have concerns about a proposed modification to your child custody agreement or if you believe a material change to your agreement is justifiable.