Family law court orders are legally enforceable and must be followed. However, life changes, particularly for parties raising children. The court understands that modifications are necessary for certain court orders, including child support, child custody, and spousal support. As a father, it is important to understand when you can modify child-related court orders and how a modification attorney can help make the process easier.

When Can Family Court Orders Be Modified?

In most states, family court orders can be modified when parents or ex-spouses agree on a modification to spousal support, child support, or child custody and submit it to the court. Property division can’t be modified. Some minor changes to parenting plans can be made without submitting the modification, but major changes and financial changes must be approved.

The court will approve the modification if it is not unfair to either party and if child-related order modifications are reasonable and in the child’s interest.

When parents or ex-spouses do not agree on a modification, then the party requesting a change must petition the court. In this case, a significant change in relevant circumstances is typically required. The change must typically be considerable and expected to continue for a significant period of time. A significant change in circumstances may also be something that was not taken into account when the first order was created.

Modifying Child Support Orders

Child support orders typically require a change in financial circumstances to be modified. They can also be modified when custody has been changed. In some states, there are regular reviews and modifications to child support orders, such as every three years. This is done to account for the ever-changing needs of a growing child.

A significant change in circumstance that may allow for a modification of child support could include:

  1. A significant period of time has passed since the previous modification or the creation of the order.
  2. Custody arrangements have changed.
  3. Either parent has had a significant increase or decrease in income.
  4. Either parent has had another significant change in their financial circumstances.
  5. Additional child support orders
  6. The child has had a change in their financial needs.
  7. Childcare costs have changed over time.
  8. The parent receiving support payments is cohabiting with another partner or has remarried.

Both parents have a responsibility to provide financial support for their child. Both should provide a proportional amount of income toward that support. However, if you feel the support payments are insufficient for your child’s needs or if you are unable to make your monthly payments, the amount may be miscalculated to adapt to life changes.

It’s important to petition for modification before a support payment is missed. Missing child support payments can result in more significant personal and legal consequences.

Modifying Child Custody

Modifications to child custody vary in complexity. Changes to visitation or parenting time are much easier than altering which parent is a primary custodial parent or modifying legal decision-making arrangements.

Modifications to child custody are not based on financials, so do not rely on a change in financial circumstances. Instead, there must have been a change in circumstances that makes the current custody arrangement no longer beneficial to a child’s interests. In some states, the court will not allow modification for several years unless the child is in danger. Some relevant changes in circumstances may include:

  • One parent wishes to relocate.
  • The mental or physical health of the child or parents has changed.
  • A parent is no longer fit to have legal and/or physical custody of a child.
  • The child has had a change in their basic needs.
  • The child’s school has changed.
  • Changes in a child’s preferences
  • One parent has violated the current custody order.
  • Either parent has had a change in employment and responsibilities.

Each state has its own guidelines for altering child custody, and individual courts may use their discretion in determining if the modification is appropriate.


Q: Can You Modify a Parenting Plan Without Going to Court in Kansas?

A: In Kansas, you must go to court to have a modification to a parenting plan approved. If both parents agree on a modification, they can make that change and then submit it to the court for approval. A judge may choose to sign off on the modification if it is reasonable, fair to each parent, and in the child’s interests. Although parents could decide to change a parenting plan outside of court, this change is not enforceable and could result in contempt of court proceedings.

Q: When Can You Modify Child Support in Missouri?

A: You can modify child support in Missouri, which allows for a regular review of child support every three years. You can request a review and potential modification three years after the order’s creation or last modification. If three years haven’t passed, there must be specific circumstances. These circumstances include:

  1. The child’s financial needs have changed due to medical care or changes as they grow older.
  2. The financial circumstances of either parent have changed.
  3. The support order was unjust or inappropriate when it was created.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in Nebraska?

A: There is no age at which a child can decide which parent they want to live with in Nebraska. Once a child turns 18 or is emancipated, they make their own choices about where they want to live. Before then, the court may consider a child’s wishes when making decisions about child custody. It will give more weight to the wishes of an older child who is more mature and shows a well-reasoned decision. However, the court does not have to listen to a child’s wishes.

Q: What Is the New Law on Child Support in Illinois?

A: The most recent child support law change in Illinois was made in 2022 and requires that parents purchase and continue health insurance coverage for their children. This requirement applies to all cases resulting in child support payments, including divorce, custody arrangements, and paternity determinations. Health insurance can either be public or private.

In 2017, Illinois made changes to child support laws stating that support is calculated based on the income shares model rather than a percentage of the paying parent’s net income.

Modifying Child-Related Court Orders as a Father

Qualifying for and petitioning for a modification of child-related court orders can be overwhelming. However, working with an attorney can help you protect your father’s rights. Contact Stange Law Firm today.