Let’s be candid: courts don’t always get it right the first time.
Issues with prior representation, a prior guardian ad litem (GAL) or facts that you or the judge didn’t know about or that didn’t exist at the time of your original judgment can all give way to needing to modify a divorce or paternity judgment.
Even if you were satisfied with, or agreed to, the terms of your original judgment by consent, changes in job, income and with your former spouse or children can all create reasons you may need to modify your initial judgment. As circumstances change, so should your judgment.
In Missouri, judgments regarding child custody and child support are always modifiable. Spousal support may also be modifiable depending on the terms contained in your initial judgment. Matters concerning division of property and debt and attorney’s fee awards are generally not subject to modification.
A modification of child custody or of support requires a showing that there has been a change in circumstance that would warrant a court modifying the terms of the initial judgment. A modification to a visitation schedule requires only a finding that a change to the initial visitation schedule is in the best interests of the minor child.
Changes in circumstance can include, but are not limited to:
- The relocation of a former spouse or party;
- A change in income;
- The financial and other needs of the parties and children;
- Emancipation of a child;
- Alienation of a child from a parent or custodian; and
- Failure to comply with the terms of prior court orders or judgments.
Repeated modifications to a judgment can be time-consuming and expensive, so when you go back to court, it’s important to get it right. A good attorney will help you resolve the issues you presently face in modifying your decree. An excellent attorney will help you think beyond the present issues and tackle future issues and concerns so you hopefully don’t need to come back.