Circumstances change. And this may cause the legal orders from divorce to no longer fit. The family court has a system for changes to court orders through modifications. Though similar to appeals, modifications are for family court decisions, while appeals are for criminal court.
Appeals and modifications are two terms that might be commonly confused. The main difference between them is that appeals are significantly more difficult procedures, and the legal process of modifications is much more lenient. This is because appeals are meant to correct a failure in the criminal court legal system, while order modification is in response to a change in life.
Erica Lord Law Group wants to help you work through order modifications effectively and easily. Circumstances change, and family court orders should adapt to the needs that arise from those changes. You may be worried about the current situations you’re dealing with that are outside of your control, and you may feel concerned about how the possibility of changes to a current court order might require penalties. We have a detail-oriented team that can help you draft an effective order modification petition. Let the experienced attorneys at Erica Lord Law Group handle the process and advocate for a more reasonable order to reflect your situation.
The process of requesting an order modification can be much more difficult without a qualified family law firm. For a much quicker and more effective process, it can be useful to hire legal counsel. That way, someone who understands divorce family law, as well as child custody and support, can determine the specifics of your situation, and they can evaluate how they may impact a modification. An experienced family law attorney can help you determine which changes in the standing order would be appropriate. They can also help you prepare for the hearing.
Filing a motion for standing family court order modification in Beckley, WV will require an outline of what would need modification and an explanation of the significant change of circumstances that require these changes. Some changes of circumstances that might have occurred since the finalization of your divorce may include:
An experienced divorce order modification attorney can assist you in creating this motion for modification, and they can ensure that all the sufficient evidence is compiled. Once the family court receives your motion, they will schedule a hearing, at which point other parties affected by the court order will be informed. Depending on the modifications and your relationship with the other party, they may or may not contest the modification petition.
Your attorney can prepare you for the hearing, where you and the other party will discuss the issues regarding the initial order and the modification to it. Often, modifications are decided following one hearing, but this is not always the case. In most cases, once the judge reaches a decision regarding the modification, any changes will be instantly in effect.
As with the initial family court order, the main factor for modifying child support and custody is the child’s best interests. Often, there are requests for changes in child support in response to an increased cost of living. Child support could also be changed by an increase or decrease in one or both parents’ incomes. In cases of child custody, the court will consider a continued parent-child relationship with both parents, except in cases of domestic abuse.
In visitation orders, modifications may be made if there is a failure by one party to cooperate with the set schedule or new factors like relocation or another circumstance cause an inability to remain consistent with the standing visitation orders.
If you believe that there has been a change in circumstances that affects a standing family court order, you can draft a petition that states so. In this draft, you may bring forward the changes you would need to make. Then, a hearing will be scheduled, and your ex-spouse or other parties involved in the court order will be able to contest the petition. Both parties have a say about the issue in the hearing.
A change in circumstances that could require a post-divorce order modification may be a significant change in income for either party, a change in resources, an involuntary loss of employment, retirement following the age of 65, changes in the needs of a child, disabilities or health concerns for either party or the children, relocation, or remarriage.
At any age, a judge can overrule a child’s preference, but West Virginia law often gives more weight to the wishes of children 14 years or older. The child’s best interests outweigh their own preferences in the court, but their wishes may be a factor in considering their best outcome.
If a judge considers a child younger than 14 as significantly mature and demonstrating well-reasoned preferences, they may choose to give their wishes more weight in the case. That is, however, dependent on the judge’s discernment. Even children older than 14 may not have their wishes met based on what their best interests are in the eyes of the judge.
Erica Lord Law Group has experience with several complex family law matters, including petitions for divorce order modification. Our post-divorce modification lawyers can work with you to create a compelling statement. Contact our firm to learn more about life changes that can lead to order modification.