Huntsville Divorce and Child Custody Modifications
Huntsville divorce and child custody modifications are possible by filing a Petition to Modify in civil court. To receive approval, you must show the judge that circumstances changed significantly between the divorce date and the current time and that this change is within the best interests of those involved.
If you are considering your options for modifying your divorce, support obligations, custody, or visitation in Huntsville, The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can help. We offer no-obligation evaluations, and our compassionate, knowledgeable team can guide you through the process from start to finish. Contact our team to learn more today.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Handles a Wide Range of Modifications After Divorce
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we fight to ensure the involved parties recognize your voice. The judge can then hear your requests and have the information necessary to understand your position. We can protect your right to financial stability, seek the best outcome for your children, and pursue an equitable distribution of assets and debts.
In addition to divorce and custody cases, we help clients modify previous orders.
This often includes:
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child support
- Child custody and decision-making
We have a track record of helping our clients get the outcome they want in their case, including protecting their income, securing fair support for them or their child, or ensuring their child lives with the most suitable parent.
What Is a Divorce and Child Custody Modification?
Divorce and child custody modifications alter the original orders from the court or those currently in effect. Except for modifications related to spousal support, most occur in families with children. There are many reasons why families may need to alter child support obligations, visitation schedules, or custody arrangements in the years following a divorce.
Situations change, and children grow up. They do not need the same things at age three as middle schoolers or teens preparing for college. Parents could lose jobs or get new ones that pay significantly more. Some suffer injuries or illnesses that prevent them from working in their previous capacity. These changes could be enough to petition the court to modify a divorce decree or custody order.
When someone files a Petition to Modify in a Madison County or Limestone County family court, the judge considers the evidence the same way they did in making the initial ruling.
To get approval for a modification, you must show:
- A substantial change in circumstances occurred
- This change makes the initial ruling unsuitable
- A better alternative exists
The judge will hear from each side, consider the evidence, and determine the best interests of each individual or their children. If approved, the court alters the current orders to incorporate the modifications.
When Can I Petition for a Modification in Huntsville?
There is no set time to wait to petition the court for a modification. However, if a substantial change in circumstances occurs—often called a “material” change—this may call for requesting a modification. This is possible whether the parties agreed on the initial terms or the case went to trial, and there was a court order.
In essence, you can request a modification as long as you have sufficient reason to explain why it is necessary. Generally, circumstances change more as time passes. For example, a significant change could occur several years after a divorce than in the initial months following the decree.
If you wonder if you have grounds for a divorce or child custody modification or under what circumstances you might, our attorneys can answer your questions based on the specifics of your case. In addition, we can explain the process and how we help clients modify alimony, child support, and parenting plans.
The Process: Petitioning for a Divorce or Child Custody Modification
It may be possible to file a Petition to Modify uncontested. If both you and the other party agree the change is for the best, our team prepares the paperwork and asks the judge for approval. This often happens when parents’ schedules change, they need to swap nights for visitation, or one parent moves to another state and will only see the child on extended school breaks.
However, most divorce and child custody modifications in Huntsville prove more complex. For example, your former spouse may not readily agree that you should stop paying them alimony, or they may not want to give up significant parenting time with the children. In these cases, our attorneys must prepare a contested Petition to Modify.
Our attorneys gather evidence, develop a strong argument for the modification, and advocate for our clients in court. We call witnesses as necessary and present the client’s case to the judge. Depending on the situation, they could decide that day or wait and issue a decision later.
Modifying Your Divorce Decree in Huntsville
A common modification to divorce we handle involves changing spousal support obligations. Alabama has strict laws about alimony under Alabama Code § 30-2-56 and § 30-2-57. As circumstances change after a divorce, the amount paid by the supporting spouse may require changes. Therefore, we petition to raise, lower, and eliminate spousal support for our clients.
Remember, this requires first showing a material change in circumstances for one or both former spouses.
This could include:
- A significant change in jobs or income for either party
- Remarriage for the recipient
- Another event that alters the ability to pay or need for support
Our team understands why courts approve these modifications and how to present a strong petition for a change in our client’s favor. We assess these cases regularly and help our clients end their financial obligations, lower their payments, or make other changes.
Modifying Your Huntsville Child Custody Agreement
Many Petitions to Modify focus on child support or child custody issues. Like other petitions, these are either uncontested or contested.
Uncontested Petition to Modify
Alabama allows most parents to decide on a parenting plan or visitation schedule that works for their family. Agreeing to modify the visitation or living arrangements can generally lead to a judge’s approval.
Contested Petition to Modify
When accusations of bad behavior, poor parenting, or disobeying the court order arise, a contested Petition to Modify is necessary.
The circumstances that could support a modification include:
- The child’s needs are no longer being met due to age or a specific situation
- A parent no longer exercising their visitation with the child
- A parent’s drug addiction, alcoholism, or other similar concerns
- A significant change in the child’s health or well-being
- A major change in grades or other indicators of success
- Other circumstances that put a child in danger
Our divorce modification lawyers in Huntsville can discuss your options with you. We regularly prepare and file Petitions to Modify for our clients in Madison and Limestone counties. We understand the evidence necessary to convince the judge to use their discretion and grant the modification for you and your children.
Divorce Modification Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You will find a few of the most common questions we hear from clients below. If we did not include your question or you have additional concerns, do not hesitate to reach out for your no-obligation case evaluation.
Further reading: Finding the Best Divorce Lawyers in Huntsville, Alabama
Can I Modify Property Division After a Divorce?
Generally, property division is one aspect of a divorce the court will not modify. However, you can petition the court to enforce property division orders when necessary. We offer advice, guidance, and representation in Huntsville.
How Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support?
Alabama divorce law allows former spouses to petition the court to alter spousal support orders if circumstances have changed enough since the decree to warrant it. This is most common when the paying partner can no longer meet the financial obligations or the receiving spouse remarried. Our team may be able to petition to reduce or eliminate your alimony payment or raise your spousal support based on the circumstances.
If Both Parents Share Equal Custody, Must One Pay Child Support to the Other?
Yes, almost all child custody decisions include child support. However, the court will consider other factors beyond parenting time when determining child support. For example, income, responsibilities related to the child, such as medical care and education, and other factors make a difference.
Do I Have to Go to Court to Stop Child Support for an Older Child?
In some cases, Alabama does not stop taking child support from your paycheck even after your child turns 19. The other parent will not petition the court to stop the payments they receive, and you may need us to act on your behalf.
This could require filing legal documents, including a Petition to Modify and an affidavit showing your child reached the age of majority.
Will a Change in Parenting Time Affect Child Support?
Child support calculations rely on parenting time awarded in the divorce decree or parenting plan. If you modify the parenting plan, this also alters child support. The two work hand-in-hand. Parents call on our attorneys for child support modifications when the number of actual parenting days becomes significantly different from the one in their parenting plan.
How Do I Increase My Chances for More Parenting Time?
Working with your attorney and following advice they give you based on your circumstances offers one good way to seek the modifications you request. In general, the judge will usually resist changing a schedule unless it is in the children’s best interest. A Petition to Modify should outline a significant change and how it negatively affects the child or children.
When Can My Child Choose Who to Live With?
Alabama does not have a law specifying the age when the courts consider the child’s opinion about who they want to live with. Instead, the judge will decide based on the individual child’s maturity and knowledge of the situation.
The child’s preference could be one of many factors considered by the judge when deciding on a child custody and visitation schedule. If you already have a custody plan in place, a child deciding they want to live elsewhere is usually not a significant enough change to modify the plan. However, if both parents agree to a change in the visitation schedule, you could secure an uncontested modification.
Can I Change Child Custody or Visitation Because I Don’t Like the Other Parent’s Significant Other?
In general, the courts do not consider either parent dating someone new as a material change in circumstances. However, the judge might hear your case if evidence shows the children are in danger. If you have concerns about your children’s environment or their emotional, mental, and physical well-being, our attorneys can help you understand your options.
You could get a child custody modification or a rule to limit their exposure to a new romantic interest. Proving concerns to the court will take strong evidence, but it could prove possible. For example, seeing someone with a criminal history of sex crimes or chronic drug offenses could likely cause the judge to scrutinize the situation.
Talk to Our Team About Your Huntsville Divorce and Child Custody Modifications
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we offer no-obligation evaluations to those looking for more information about divorce and child custody modifications in Huntsville. Our team answers questions, addresses concerns, explains options, and outlines the process during your call.
Contact us today at (256) 859-7277 to begin. We are here to help you navigate this process and fight for your best interests.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Huntsville Office Location:1500 Perimeter Parkway #275
Huntsville, AL 35806