How Do We Change Our Child Support Or Custody Agreement

If you and your ex or if not married the parent of your child want to change an existing court order of child support or parenting schedule or custody agreement, you will most likely need a court order.

There is no doubt that having a new court order is the absolute best way to protect your rights.  However, some parties will just have a written agreement or email setting forth the change and while that can work if there is no prior order or if child support is not being paid to the Child Support Enforcement Bureau (CSEB) it is still much better to have a proper Modification Agreement prepared by a divorce attorney.

The procedure is the same whether the modification is for child support, parenting or a custody change.  The first step is to make sure that there truly is a mutual understanding or agreement as to the changes.  The second step is to prepare a proper Modification Agreement that sets forth what the current obligation or arrangement is and then what the new arrangement will be.  The third step is to have it ordered by the Court.

So if child support was $1,000/mos and now it will be $750/mos the Modification Agreement will provide the details, why it is being changed and the calculation and whether it meets or deviates from the normal child support formula result.  A court order is absolutely needed if the support is paid to CSEB as they will not honor a written agreement and will only follow a new court order.

If custody or the parenting schedule is changing a Modification Agreement should be prepared if the changes are significant.  If the change is merely that the Wednesday visit will now be Tuesday or the drop-off time has been extended by an hour a full formal agreement most likely will not be necessary unless a parent believes that they will need the Court to enforce the change in the future.

Once a Modification Agreement has been prepared, approved and signed by both parties, the next step is to file a Petition in the Family Court for modification based upon the two parents having signed the Modification Agreement.  A copy of the Modification Agreement is attached to the Petition and a court date will be scheduled after the Petition has been filed and served.  At the first court appearance the Magistrate/Referee or Judge will ask if the Agreement has been modified and signed by both parties and then the Court will "So Order" the Agreement and the case is finished.  If you are modifying both custody and child support two separate petitions will be needed as the cases go to two different courtrooms.

Taking the time to have a properly prepared Modification Agreement is important because it will be less likely that in the future there are questions or uncovered matters as an experienced matrimonial attorney will have drafted a proper and comprehensive agreement.