St. Louis Attorneys for Divorce Modifications
If you are no longer able to meet your obligations regarding spousal support, child support, or child custody, the attorneys at Raza & Jones, LLC can help you seek a modification.
Circumstances change. Jobs disappear, new opportunities open up, and life just happens. While it can be challenging enough just to keep up, if you are divorced or have a child support or child custody order, you need to be careful to ensure that you do not allow these changes to prevent you from meeting your legal obligations.
If a change in circumstances is preventing you from paying spousal or child support, or if you are no longer able to meet your obligations with respect to child custody, to protect yourself, you may need to file a motion for modification in court. At Raza & Jones, LLC, we assist individuals throughout the St. Louis, MO area with motions for modification.
Modification of Spousal Support
In Missouri, only certain orders for spousal support (known as “maintenance” in Missouri) can be modified.
When the judge issued the decree finalizing your divorce, the decree likely included a provision stating that the spousal support awarded was either “modifiable” or “nonmodifiable.” Nonmodifiable spousal support typically has a set end date or terminating event (such as remarriage of the supported spouse), and is generally not eligible for modification.
Modifiable spousal support, on the other hand, typically continues with no set end date (though it will terminate upon remarriage, death, or entry of a Modification Judgment), but can be modified in the event of a significant change in either party’s financial circumstances, such as retirement.
In order to obtain a modification of spousal support, the moving party must show that since the divorce decree there have been changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable. In proving or disproving that this has occurred, the court will consider factors such as:
- All Financial resources of both parties
- The extent to which the reasonable expenses of either party are, or should be, shared by a spouse or other person with whom he or she cohabits
- Earning capacity of a party who is not employed
If you lost your job, if you former spouse got a job or a promotion, or if there has been any other significant change in either you or your former spouse’s financial condition (and you have a “modifiable” spousal support award), you may be eligible to file for modification of spousal support.
Modification of Child Support
Like spousal support, the Missouri courts will only award a modification of child support upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable. If you can prove that your child support would increase or decrease 20%, then you have proved this change. In Missouri, child support calculations are made using Civil Procedure Form No. 14, which considers factors such as:
- Each parent’s monthly gross income
- Any pre-existing child support obligations for other children
- Spousal support obligations
- Costs such as child care, health insurance, and medical care
- The parents’ respective custody and visitation rights
If you need to seek a modification of child support, our attorneys can help you assess all of the relevant factors and perform the necessary calculations to determine and request an appropriate modification.
Modification of Child Custody and Visitation
Custody and visitation rights are determined based upon the best interests of the child. As a result, in order to seek a modification, you will generally need to be able to show that your request serves not only your interests, but your child’s as well. While some custody modifications are fairly routine and can be implemented through a stipulation (an agreement between both parents filed with the court), others will require issuance of a new order.
Examples of custody modifications that can often be achieved by stipulation include:
- Changes in days and times that do not affect overall parenting time
- Changes in exchange locations
- Changes to accommodate a child’s school schedule or extra-curricular activities
A request to modify a child’s primary residence would be an example of a more significant change that would typically require the court to issue a new order. Custody modifications such as these will often require a modification of child support as well.
St. Louis, MO Support and Custody Modification Attorneys – Raza & Jones, LLC
While many modifications are contested, parents and former spouses are often able to agree to modifications that work for all parties involved. At Raza & Jones, LLC we work with our clients to obtain custody and support modifications as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Whether that means negotiating a stipulation or arguing in court, you can trust our experienced attorneys to advise you and help you make informed decisions every step of the way.
To schedule an initial consultation, call our St. Louis, MO family law offices at (314) 449-8830 or send us a message online today.