Help with modifying agreements in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties
While divorce decrees are final and legally binding, there may come a time when you realize that your order is no longer working in your best interests. If your or your child's circumstances have changed, you may need to modify your custody or support order.
Modification is a determination that changes, replaces, supersedes, or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning child support, child custody, or alimony, whether or not it is made by the court that made the previous determination. For help modifying an order, contact Holland Law in Fort Mill or Rock Hill. I'll fight for the best possible outcome for you and your child.
Modifying an order may hinge on a substantial change in circumstances
The key to having a court order modified is proving a substantial change in your, your child's, or your spouse's circumstances since the time the current order was entered. A custodial parent engaging in dangerous behavior affecting your child, a former spouse receiving a substantial salary increase, a significant discrepancy in reported income by a non-custodial parent – all of these examples are fairly common reasons to seek a modification.
Understand that you must be able to prove the change in circumstances to the court. The more solid proof that you're able to provide, the better your chances are for having your modification granted.
Which family court orders can be modified?
Temporary and final orders can be modified for alimony, child support, and child custody, with some exceptions. (Certain forms of alimony are non-modifiable, making them ineligible for a reduction or increase.)
Child custody modification
In South Carolina, the Family Courts retain jurisdiction over the modification of custody orders. Factors established under Moss v. Moss provide that when it can be shown that a change in circumstances negatively affects a child, and that a change in custody or visitation will be in the child's best interest, that Family Court has authority to revise the order.
Child support modification
While it's not the only reason to seek a child support modification, changes in custody can frequently lead to changes in financial support. Again, this form of modification hinges on showing that there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of either parent. Increases or decreases in salary or child-related expenses are often at the root of these requests for modification.
If you believe you are paying more than your fair share because the other parent was able to conceal relevant forms of income – or vice versa – your child support can be adjusted. If custody of your child has changed from one parent to the other, a modification of child support may be warranted. Additionally, if one parent is now receiving a significantly increased amount of visitation, there may be a reason to request a modification of the child support amount being paid.
Modification of alimony
Sometimes the circumstances that led to an award of alimony will change after your divorce has been finalized. For example, if you are the supporting spouse and you've suffered serious financial setbacks, making the payment of alimony a hardship, you can seek a modification.
When the supporting spouse seeks modification of alimony due to an upcoming retirement, the court will consider the request based on the factors under S.C. Code Section 20-3-170 (B), which include:
- Whether retirement was contemplated when alimony was awarded
- The age of the supporting spouse
- The health of the supporting spouse
- Whether retirement is mandatory or voluntary
- Whether retirement would result in a decrease in the supporting spouse's income
Domestic violence and child custody order modifications
While the courts must consider any history of abuse or domestic violence, they do not have to deny custody to abusive parents. This is important, sadly, because an act of violence may not be enough to permanently modify an order.
If your child is being abused, you must be able to prove the abuse is occurring in order to be successful in your modification petition; the accusation will not be enough. If you are worried about the wellbeing of your child, you can file a “Petition for Order of Protection” and request an emergency hearing within 24 hours.
If you find yourself in this precarious position, call me at any time. I can help you.
Why was my modification request regarding child support denied?
Just because you petition the court for the modification of an order, does not mean the court will accept your request. More often than not, your modification will be denied because:
- The reason for the requested change in child support could have been anticipated when the child support order was first entered
- The person requesting a reduction in child support is able to reasonably make the current child support payments
- The request for a change in child support was filed primarily because the other parent has remarried
- The parent seeking the change in child support has voluntarily quit a job, switched to a lower paying job, or stopped looking for a job
- The parent seeking a reduction in child support continues to enjoy the same lifestyle despite changes in marital status and finances
The court order you are looking to modify was initially entered based on criteria, facts, and circumstances that could be weeks, months, or years old. When dealing with divorce and family court matters, changes can sometimes occur quickly. At Holland Law, we know the goal to winning any modification is to show the court that there actually has been a significant change that resulted in the in initial ruling. Proof beyond “he said/she said” will be required. Even though you know there has been a major change, you may need to wait until you have enough evidence to prove it concretely.
Experienced Rock Hill and Fort Mill family law advice when you need it
Holland Law is dedicated to caring for the legal needs of the citizens of York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties. A patient yet aggressive strategy is what you need to gain the best advantage in obtaining the outcome you desire. To reserve a consultation with me in either my Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in my Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue, call 803-590-6665 or reach out to me through my contact page.