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Modification: The In’s and Out’s

modificationAs life changes, you may find yourself in a situation where your current order (or judgment) no longer applies to your circumstances or seems fair, given your life changes. If you find yourself in this situation, speak with an attorney to determine if you would benefit from filing a Complaint for Modification.

Have you been laid off? Did you lose your health insurance benefit? Did your life insurance premium increase dramatically? Are you now disabled or reduced to a different position as a result of a health issue? Did these issues come upon you through no fault of your own? Did your schedule at work change? Is your child now living with you (contra to the terms of your custody agreement)? These are just a few examples of potential reasons for modification of an award for support or custody.

In order to request a modification from the Court, you must demonstrate that the court made a certain order and since that time, there has been a material change in circumstances. That means that since the time of the last order (or judgment), something significant has changed, making the current order (or judgment) unfair, impossible or unreasonable.

Be careful when seeking a modification! Be sure that you are able to meet the burden of proof and combat the opposing party’s claims. Be sure that after the requested modification, you will sit in a better position.

Often times, I find that a client wants to file for a modification, but after we discuss their matter in detail, they may have a very difficult time demonstrating a true material change in circumstances.

Other times, I find that a party may actually put themselves in a worse position by modification! A good example of this may be a father that has a child support order from many years ago for two children, one of whom is now clearly emancipated. The father can easily prove the material change (child has graduated college) but because of his increased income since the original order, he would now be ordered to pay more child support for one child. Father will be successful in modifying but would come out with a higher support award in this example.

This is a matter that is best advised by qualified counsel. It may be the difference between success and failure for your claim.

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