Divorce courts have jurisdiction to modify child support orders, child custody matters and most spousal support maters. Modifications are brought before the divorce court by the filing of a Request For Order (RFO).
This can be extremely stressful for families, especially if they have already settled into a regular routine. All child custody orders are modifiable and all parts of a child custody order are modifiable. Even an order that specifically states that it is not modifiable is actually modifiable. The divorce court will not enforce a non-modifiable child custody order, in that a non-modifiable order is deemed to be contrary to public policy.
Temporary child custody orders may be but are rarely modified. Divorce courts are reluctant to modify a temporary child custody order unless it is for the safety of a child. The divorce courts are very reluctant to dedicate the court’s resources for multiple temporary custody hearings.
Final or permanent (also known as post-judgment) child custody orders may be modified if a ‘significant change in circumstances’ since the last child custody order occurs. The divorce lawyer representing the parent attempting to modify the child custody order must show that changes have occurred. The changes that divorce courts make in determination relate to the child’s health, education, and welfare. Different divorce courts may evaluate changes of circumstances differently. This is another very complicated area of law that requires experience and care.