How Do I Know if I Need an Order Modification?
If you need to modify an existing court order, it is often because the circumstances dictating the order have changed, or you want to oppose another party’s request for an order modification.
For instance, some of the most common reasons why you may need an order modification include:
- A change in income
- A change in your child’s needs
- A belief that your child is in danger
- If the other party is not complying with an order
If you are experiencing one of these situations, it may be in your best interest to reach out to an experienced order modification attorney who can help you figure out the best legal course of action you should take and whether order modification is possible.
Changing or Enforcing Minnesota Court Orders
In Minnesota, a court order altering the terms of the original divorce decree often happens when there is a change in the parties’ circumstances. However, the most common modifications that tend to arise are those pertaining to child support, child custody, parenting time, and spousal support, also referred to as alimony.
#1. Modification of Child Support
A parent can ask the court to change an existing child support order by filing a Motion to Modify Support or a stipulation. However, the party requesting this modification will need to show that the terms of the current order are unfair or unreasonable. The courts will also consider the income of both parents and the parenting time before making any changes.
#2. Modification of Child Custody
Although child custody orders can be changed in Minnesota, the process is often complicated. The court will need to first consider the child’s best interests and then focus on the modification standards to figure out if a custody modification is appropriate. As a result, if a parent is seeking a custody modification, they will need to be able to show that:
- A change has occurred since the original order was entered.
- There has been a significant change in the child’s circumstances or the parent’s circumstances.
- A custody modification must be made to serve the child’s best interests.
In addition, the parent requesting the modification must also be able to prove to the court one of the following factors:
- Both parties have agreed to the change.
- The child’s current environment endangers their emotional or physical health or impairs their emotional development, and the harm that is likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change to the child.
- The court denied a request of the primary custodial parent to move the child’s resident to another state, and the primary custodial parent has moved despite these orders, or
- The child has been integrated into the family of the petitioning parent with consent from the other party.
#3. Modification of Parenting Time
The court in Minnesota will need to look at the best interests of a child when modifying parenting time. Although these standards are not as strict as they are for modifying a custody order, a motion will still be required, and a hearing will need to be held.
Additionally, these less strict standards will only hold true if the modification does not try to restrict the other parent’s parenting time or change the child’s primary residence.
#4. Modification of Spousal Support
A permanent spousal support or alimony award is meant to continue forever. However, a permanent maintenance award can be suspended, terminated, or changed if a spouse’s income changes significantly, a spouse’s expenses substantially change, or a spouse receiving maintenance cohabitates with another individual.
Order Modification Lawyers: The Modification Process
In general, the modification process can be broken down into four phases: the case strategy phase, the mediation phase, the court phase, and the final settlement phase.
#1. Case Strategy
The case strategy process involves an initial consultation with an experienced order modification lawyer. These attorneys can review your case, figure out the best way to proceed with a modification order, and help you understand what you can expect from the process. In addition, after these legal professionals have all the facts, they can develop a case strategy to help you go after the outcome you need.
Typically, a less stressful and more cost-effective method of resolving an order modification issue is through mediation. During this phase, both parties will need to select a mediator and schedule a mediation. Depending on the order you are looking to change, you and your attorney will also need to obtain relevant evidence that can support your case before the mediation begins.
Once the evidence is gathered, a mediation statement will need to be prepared and provided to the mediator before the start of the mediation. If the mediation is successful, you and the other party will sign a binding mediation agreement for the changes to occur. If the mediation does not work, the next step will be court.
To modify a court order, the parent seeking to modify must first make a motion with the court. After this motion is made, the court can accept the allegations as true. However, if the allegations rise to the level of integration or endangerment, the court can schedule an evidentiary hearing. During this hearing, the court will need to make a final decision regarding any proposed modifications.
#4. Final Settlement
During this final phase, your attorney can prepare stipulations and orders, formalizing the order modification request on your behalf. Your attorney will then circulate the order to the opposing counsel and obtain the necessary signatures. Finally, your lawyer can file the stipulation and new order with the court, which finalizes the order modification and makes the new order legally binding.
Although this whole process may seem like a tedious and challenging ordeal, you will not have to tackle it alone when you work with an experienced order modification lawyer. Instead, you will have experienced and skilled legal help walking you through every step of this process.
How Can Order Modification Lawyers Help Your Case?
When you work with an experienced attorney, these order modification lawyers can not only help you determine whether you have grounds for a modification, but they can ensure they fight hard for the outcome you need. These attorneys can also:
- Provide suggestions for other modifications you could request that could make it easier for you to manage your court-ordered obligations in the future.
- Help draft and prepare your petitions.
- Answer all the questions and concerns you have about this legal process and help you make informed decisions regarding your future.
- Try to change prearranged alimony amounts
- Ensure that the strongest case is prepared on your behalf and heard by the court the first time around.
Seek Advice From the Order Modification Lawyers at CJB Law
If you need further information about modifying a court order or would like to start the process, contact CJB Law today for a discreet consultation and let our legal team explain how we can help you.