Salt Lake City Divorce and Family Law Attorney David Pedrazas
When there is a divorce battle, children often get thrown in the middle. Helping your kids adjust to the custody order can be difficult and frustrating if they do not like the outcome. Salt Lake City courts commonly prefer to issue a joint legal and physical custody ruling, as long as the parents appear eligible and it benefits the children. When there are cases of sole custody, parent time can be allotted to the noncustodial parent. There are times when the court may make a decision based on the immediate factors, not foreseeing how both parents’ lives might change. In the case of serious or major changes in either parent’s living situation or employment, child custody might be considered for modification. If you need to modify the current child custody arrangements you and your children are living with, an experienced lawyer from our firm may be able to help.
When deciding what steps to take for child custody modification, even the small details could affect your ability to receive a positive answer from the courts. To guarantee that you don’t misrepresent your case for modifying custody, enlist the help of a Salt Lake City divorce attorney. Our Salt Lake City firm is dedicated to assisting clients who are facing child custody battles or frustrations. We are committed to ensuring that in every family dispute, the child’s best interests are being pursued. Protecting the rights and interests of your child is important, which is why you should talk with a lawyer from the Law Office of David Pedrazas, PLLC, today.
Do you have a question about your ex-spouse’s custody rights or want to pursue a modification in court?
Modifying Child Custody in Utah
Taking action to change an existing child custody order is not uncommon in Utah. Sometimes, the custody arrangement between a custodial and non-custodial parent, or between parents sharing joint custody may need to be changed in the child’s best interest. But, this is a very serious kind of request to submit to the court. So, if you have decided to seek a change of custody, you will need to work with an experienced child custody modification lawyer. Your attorney will guide you and ensure that all steps of the process are managed as necessary to be effective in family court in this kind of case.
Why Do People Modify Child Custody?
There are many reasons why people might want to modify their custody order. For example:
- The parents may agree that changing the custody arrangement would be in the best interest of their child, perhaps to improve the home environment.
- There may be a relocation that makes the existing parent-time schedule too difficult to maintain, whereas a custody change can preserve the child’s current routine.
How Do You Modify Child Custody in Utah?
This is the series of steps you can expect in the process of attempting to modify an existing child custody order in Utah:
- File a motion for modification of the existing court order
- Service of a summons to the other parent
- Complete the state’s Parental Education and Litigation Awareness courses
- Attend mediation in effort to resolve any dispute out of court
- Attorney performs discovery
- Attend the pretrial hearing
- Attend the courtroom trial
- A judgment is handed down by the court
These steps are complex, with each requiring execution of various legal forms, application of laws, court rules, and numerous associated legal concepts, protocols, and terms. You’ll need to work with an experienced lawyer for child custody to succeed with all facets of processing a petition for a change of child custody in Utah.
The Reason For the Custody Change is a Serious Matter.
The judge’s decision on modifying a child custody order will be largely based on the reasons for the requested change. The best interest of the child is always the top priority for the court in this kind of case. If the judge determines that there is an insufficient basis for the request, a financial penalty may be imposed on the party who filed for the modification. These are just some of the reasons the court considers appropriate for requesting modification of a child custody order, among many others:
- A parent relocating due to work
- Charges of abuse
- Relocating the child to a better school district
- A parent relocating due to an illness in the family
- A felony conviction of someone involved in the child’s life
- Problems due to an addiction
- A parent becomes severely physically or mentally disabled
- A parent remarries, and the new spouse is not suitable
The outcome of a case to request child custody modification relies on the attorney’s and client’s ability to convince the court of the validity of the request. Once the petition for custody change is filed, the court can either write a new order to make the requested modification or offer alternatives that the court would approve.
Factors in Court Decisions on Joint Custody Modification
In joint custody arrangements, changing the agreement can be more complicated. The court will examine the matters involved in the divorce, the child’s relationship with each parent, how well the parents have worked cooperatively, and other factors in the family’s history. Some factors the court will consider in a decision on modifying a joint custody order include:
- How far are the parents’ homes from the child’s school, extracurricular activities, friends?
- Are the parents able to prioritize the child’s needs over their own by reaching an agreement on a cooperative parenting plan?
- Will the change in physical or legal custody benefit the child’s development?
- Will the two parents equally engage in raising the child?
Child Custody Modification Due To An Unstable Environment
When the courts decide upon a suitable child custody arrangement, they are always prepared for the necessity of future modifications. When there are changes in either parent’s life, a child could benefit from an adjusted custody arrangement. In some cases, that may mean a change from parent time to joint custody, or in other cases, loss of custody. One of the main factors that influence court decisions is the ability of a parent to provide a stable environment for his or her child or children. Basic needs must be met, especially ones like food, education and consistency in their living situation.
If a parent can’t provide this type of stable and consistent environment any longer, courts will be prompted to transfer custody. If the custodial parent is prone to multiple dating relationships or remarriages, this may be deemed a lack of consistency and consideration for the children. They may also struggle with employment, often jumping from job to job or repeatedly getting fired. Frequent relocations or moves are another reason for courts to reconsider the current custody ruling. Minor instability in any of these areas will not illicit concern from a court, but repeated patterns or drastic decisions will cause it to examine potential modifications.
Other Reasons For Child Custody Modification
Most cases of child custody battles involve younger children who are unable to make informed or accepted decisions. For this reason, the court seeks to decide for them, choosing the best environment and setting for them to grow up in. While some cases may involve older children who have enough knowledge and discernment to decide for themselves, the court may still make an initial ruling that the children could modify in the future. They will not have sole power on modifications or changes in custody, but when they have reached the age of maturity, their requests have much more weight in the courts. Other instances might involve a parent who can no longer maintain custody and opts for a voluntary transfer of custody. The modifications are not legally formal, so they must still be processed through the court. It will review the agreement for temporary or long-term child custody transfer and determine whether it is a beneficial and helpful decision for the children.
Another serious change in a parent’s life could be health issues. If the custodial parent is struggling with new physical health problems that prevent him or her from offering proper protection or provision for his or her child, custody changes might be considered. An injury or sickness will not immediately merit a custody modification, but it will be examined for how it affects the child. In the case of unstable mental health, the custodial parent could lose his or her current custody rights or be subject to modifications. Again, the court will always consider what is in the best interest of the child.
FAQ About Modifying Child Custody in Utah
Can I Change My Unfair Child Support Order?
It is possible to change an existing child support order. When considering requests for change, the courts put the child’s welfare first. In Utah, the court must have jurisdiction to make any changes to an existing order. This can get complicated. If the controlling order was written in another state, Utah courts may not be at liberty to make any modifications. If either of the parents resides outside of Utah, it may be difficult to make changes as well. Before pursuing this course of action, establish whether the Utah courts can act on your behalf.
Even if you and your child’s other parent have agreed to the change, it requires a court order from a judge to become official. In case of a disagreement, you will likely need a lawyer to represent your side of the argument. The judge listens to both sides and makes a determination of whether to change the order based on the evidence presented.
How Can I Change a Child Support Order?
Parents may wish to modify existing child support payments. Doing so requires a court order. This means a judge must approve changes or agreements to change an order. There are two ways to modify a child support order in Utah. First, you can file a Motion to Modify Child Support. Second, you can file a Petition to Modify Child Support. In most cases, you will file a Petition. However, there or some circumstances where a Motion is appropriate. A Motion does not require delivery by mail, as a petition does. You can deliver a Motion via mail, email or hand delivery.
A child support order can be modified if it’s more than three years old or if:
- The difference between child support need and provided is more than 10%
- The different is permanent
- The proposed child support follows the guidelines
In a Temporary Emergency, Can the Child Support Order Change?
Modifications are possible and become necessary if either parent’s financial or other circumstances change. They also result in case of a change in the child’s health condition. If one parent loses their job or has a medical emergency, the support agreement may change.
When Does a Child Support Order Change Permanently?
A child support order can change permanently following a material change of one of the following:
- Relative wealth or assets
- 30% of a parent’s income
- Ability to earn permanently changes, such as a disability
- Medical needs of the child
- Legal responsibility a parent has for others
- Cost of health care
- Child care costs
- The child becomes emancipated or turns 18
Contact a lawyer if any of these elements occurs and you need a judgment to end or change the amount of support paid.
Can I Modify My Child Support Without Going to Court?
Yes. Some judges include a cost of living allowance in their child support orders. If your order includes this, the increase occurs automatically without the intercession of a judge. Instead, the payment amount increases or decreases with the COLA referenced in the order.
Contact Child Custody Modification Attorney David Pedrazas When You Need Help Modifying Your Child Custody in Utah
Whether you have a question about your ex-spouse’s custody rights or want to pursue a modification in court, our Salt Lake City divorce attorney is prepared to help. We know the importance of ensuring your child’s safety and comfort, which is why we are committed to fighting for every client’s case. We have the experience to handle custody transfers, temporary living adjustments or small modifications. Presenting a compelling case as you go through the evaluation for a custody change is a challenging proposition. We can help you through the steps of the custody change trial process and often vastly increase a parent’s likelihood of obtaining a modification of an existing child custody order.If you need help modifying your current custody rights, contact the Law Office of David Pedrazas today.