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Modifying Child Custody And Support Orders In Massachusetts And Vermont

Due to a change in circumstances, whether financial or personal, it may become necessary for parents to modify existing child custody or support orders. When seeking a change in custody, family court judges will consider whether there has been a material change of circumstances such that it is in the best interests of the child to modify an existing custody or support order. Modifications of child support can occur due to a change in the financial circumstances of either party or when there is a change in the Child Support Guidelines.

Modification Of Child Support Due To A Material Change In Circumstances Or A Change In The Current Child Support Guidelines

If an existing child support order is inappropriate because of significantly changed financial circumstances of either or both parents or there are changes to the Child Support Guidelines, you may be able to seek an increase or decrease in child support.

Examples of justifications for requesting child support modifications include the following:

  • You or the other parent may be injured, became disabled, or lose your job.
  • You or the other parent may have a substantial increase in salary after taking a new job or getting a promotion.
  • Your child may be approaching college age. They will soon be 18 but now they need additional financial help from you, the parents. Your original divorce and child support orders did not address the question of college tuition. Rather than leave it to chance that the other parent will cooperate with tuition assistance, you can ask a judge to order the other parent to contribute to college expenses and/or seek a modification of the amount of child support being paid.
  • A change in the applicable Child Support Guidelines.

Regardless of your reasons for needing a modified custody or support order, we can help you determine whether you should ask for one.

Modification Of Parenting Time Or Moving To Another State

There are times when a change in a parenting schedule is necessary. Some examples of when a modification in parenting time is appropriate are when there is a substantial long-term change in your child’s schedule, a change in the child’s needs or there is a change in the personal circumstances of a party including, but not limited to, a change in employment or health.

Before resorting to court action, there must be a material change in the parties’ circumstances.  Dissatisfaction with a prior court order relative to parenting is not, on its own, sufficient to modify an existing order. Where there has been a material change in circumstances, the family court will look at whether a change in the existing parenting schedule is in the best interests of the child.

There may also be a situation when a primary custodial parent wants to move to another state, taking the child with them. These types of cases are called “removal” cases and can arise in a variety of ways, such as:

  • You have lost your livelihood in your current location and want to accept a job in another city or state.
  • You need to move out of town to pursue a professional degree at an educational institution in another area.
  • Your aging parents or a disabled close family member out of town needs your caregiving assistance.
  • You are about to remarry and will be joining your new spouse in another city or state.

Removal cases are challenging and require the court to carefully weigh the best interests of the child with the request of the custodial parent.

Do You Want To Oppose The Other Parent’s Proposed Modification Of Parenting Time Or Child Support?

Losing daily face-to-face contact with your child after a divorce or separation is hard enough. You may have strong arguments against any request to decrease your parenting time, the relocation of your child to another state, or any increased child support.

In many cases, we can use negotiation or mediation, rather than trial, to achieve a workable yet fair resolution of issues involving child custody and child support. If, however, the matter does not resolve through negotiation or mediation, we will represent you vigorously in litigation to protect your rights.

We can help you determine whether modification of existing orders is appropriate and, if so, what will be in the best interests of your child.

Contact A Massachusetts Family Law Attorney

Consult with an understanding, experienced lawyer about a proposed custody or child support modification or to learn how to contest such a proposal. Contact Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP. We have offices in North Adams and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Bennington, Vermont, to serve you in your family law needs. Call us at 413-663-3200 in Massachusetts or 802-442-3233 in Vermont or send an email message.

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