Child custody orders can be modified, but only with a material and significant change in circumstances. This is because all child custody and visitation orders are made with the child’s interests in mind, and the court considers stability to be in the child’s interests, so it isn’t easy to modify orders. Modifying child custody orders takes a valid reason and proof that the change is in the child’s interest.
Nebraska Parenting Plans
During parental separation or divorce proceedings, parents either work together to create a parenting plan in their child’s interests, or the court will create it for them. The court makes the decision when parents are unable to negotiate together. Parenting plans include essential childcare information, including:
- Legal custody, such as which parent makes legal decisions for children and how decisions are reached if parents have joint legal custody.
- Physical custody, including which parent has primary custody or how joint physical custody is divided.
- Where children live during the week and on weekends
- How children are transferred from one home to the other
- Parenting time that each parent has, including how to handle birthdays, holidays, and vacations
A parenting plan also includes provisions for modification. This plan may address how the orders are changed if either parent marries or remarries or how they are changed with increased family size. This can make the process of order modification easier in the future.
Modification of Custody and a Parenting Plan
Modification of custody orders is necessary if the current plan is no longer in the child’s interests. In Nebraska, you file a complaint for modification with the court and must inform your co-parent of that fact. It is then up to the court to review the facts of your parenting plan, your request for modification, and your reasoning for doing so. The court will determine if the modification is made or not. A request for modification requires proof of a material change in a family’s life and proof that the change is in the child’s interest.
Material Change for Modification
A change that causes a custody order to no longer meet the interests or needs of the child is considered a material and significant change. This change would have led to a different court order had the change been present or known in the initial case. A material change in a family’s circumstances includes:
- The non-custodial parent relocating
- The custodial parent relocating with the child or children
- One parent is no longer able to provide for a child’s basic needs
- One parent has a substance use dependency
- The child is in an unsafe or unsuitable home
- The child’s preference has changed as they have gotten older
The court may also allow other changes of a similar caliber.
A Child’s Interests in Modification
A change to a parenting plan or custody must be in a child’s interest. This means the child’s safety, health, and life stability are cared for. Often, custody of a minor child can only be changed if the custodial parent is proven to be unfit. The judge reviewing the request for modification will review several factors, including:
- The relationship between the child and each parent before the custody action and hearing
- The child’s wishes, if they are based on sound reasoning
- The child’s general welfare, health, and social life
- Whether the child can attend school regularly
- Each parent’s ability to provide a safe and appropriate living environment.
- The moral fitness and stability of each parent
- Any credible evidence of abuse inflicted on the child or any member of the household
- The age, health, and sex of each parent and the child
- Each parent’s ability to provide care to the child
- How the child could be affected by continuing or interrupting a current relationship with the modification.
Whether modification is granted varies significantly on the unique situation and the judge assigned to the case. Custody modifications are likely to be granted if the child’s safety is directly threatened. A modification attorney can effectively advocate for why a modification is in your child’s interest.
Q: How Often Can Child Support Be Modified in Nebraska?
A: There is no specific time limit on modifications, but modifications will only be made for a material change and generally take six months to finalize. Child support modification can be requested after a material change in income or resources that has existed for three months and is expected to continue for six months. A material change in finances that only lasts for a few months is not worth modifying child support for.
Q: What Is a Material Change in Circumstances in Nebraska?
A: A material and substantial change in circumstance means that the previous court order is no longer in the child’s interests or accurately calculated in spousal support. It is a change that would have led to a different court order had this information been a part of the initial case.
Q: How Do I Lower My Child Support in Nebraska?
A: In order to modify child support, you can file a complaint for modification of child support at the court where the order was created. In order for your request to be successful, you must prove a significant and material change in your income or other financial resources. Lower income or the loss of employment are valid reasons to lower your child support payments. Additionally, you must prove that this change in income was not your fault or not done intentionally to lower your support payments.
Q: How Long Does a Child Support Modification Take in Nebraska?
A: The process of reviewing and modifying child support orders can take up to 6 months. During this time, both parents’ financial information is reviewed. If the requested modification would change the support payments by 10% or more but not less than $25, this is considered a material change in circumstances for a child support order.
Stange Law Firm: Omaha Order Modification Attorneys
To determine if a change in your family’s life warrants an order modification in Omaha, contact the experienced attorneys at Stange Law Firm. Our team can provide you with your legal options and advocate for your interests to the judge.