How do I modify custody, visitation or support? - By local court rules in Platte, Clay and Jackson County before asking a court to modify custody or visitation, a parent must request a voluntary change by the children's other parent.  If that proves unsuccessful, then a demand must be made on the co-parent for a mediated settlement discussion.  Only after those two procedures are complete may the circuit court be moved to intercede.  As a practical matter, these local rules are rarely enforced.  Most parties simply file a "Motion to Modify" in the appropriate circuit court.

Platte County Veterans Memorial and Circuit Courthouse Platte City MissouriWhat are the bases for modifying custody? - A change of custody requires the court to find that there has been a substantial continuing change of circumstances such that the existing custody orders are no longer in the child's best interests.  This relates to questions of custody only, such as a parent who had been previously denied custody, or a parent with joint custody who has reason to believe a change to sole custody is necessary.

A substantial continuing change of circumstance is not a necessary precondition for a change in "visitation."  Of course visitation is an out-of-vogue term now.  "Parenting time" is the preferred euphemism.  But if a parent wants to increase or decrease parenting time without changing either physical or legal custody, then the only standard that must be proved is that the change is in the child's best interest.

A request for a change in child support can again only be brought for a substantial continuing change of circumstance.  An unanticipated increase in extra child-rearing expenses, a change of job, a loss of job, a promotion.  The mere passage of time is also almost universally accepted as a basis for reconsideration.  Around about three years seems to be the magic number.  Finally, a defacto change in parenting time may also constitute a basis for a change in support.

As an example, imagine a father has been order to pay child support.  His fifteen year old daughter is having trouble getting along with her mother and stepfather who consent that she may live with her dad.  That is an actual, or "defacto" change that should warrant a change in child support.  That is, why would dad continue paying mom to support a child now living with him?  In such a case, it would be wise to wait awhile and firmly establish the new living arrangements before moving for a court order.

 

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