When it comes to child custody cases I often have clients ask, “When is it appropriate to modify the terms of child custody or child support?” Of course, in these situations, modifications should only be made with your child’s best interests in mind. So the steps needed to get any kind of modification approved involve evaluating your child’s needs.


Child Custody


There are two main types of child custody agreements: contract and court ordered. We’re going to focus on court ordered custody agreements, as there is no ability for modification with a contract between two parties.


To make changes to a court ordered child custody agreement either both parties must agree on the modification or there must be evidence of a significant change in circumstances that affect the welfare of the child and that a modification is in the best interest of the child.

It falls upon the parent requesting the modification to provide evidence to support their child’s change of circumstances. For example some things that could support a request are:


  •  Relocation of one or both parties.
  •  Inadequate living conditions for the child.
  •  Substance abuse by a parent or custodian.
  •  Instability of a parent or custodian.
  •  The emotional or physical health of the child or parent.
  •  Loss of a parent or custodian’s job.
  •  A change in the child’s performance at school.


Of course, this is not a complete list. There are many additional things that could support modifying a custody agreement. The main thing to keep in mind is: are your child’s needs and best interests being considered and accommodated?


Child Support


Modifications to child support agreements require a significant loss in income for the party responsible. Some factors that may be considered are:


  •  Significant loss of income.
  •  Changes in factors used to determine support (such as daycare expenses or medical insurance).
  •  Loss of a job.


However, be aware that as with child custody cases, decisions will be made with your child’s best interests in mind.


If you have any questions about child custody or child support, don’t hesitate to consult an attorney. Make sure that both your rights and your child are being protected.