Court orders resulting from a divorce or separation may include spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support. These court orders are a legal agreement that must be upheld. However, life circumstances for families change, and the court allows modification to reflect those changes.
Modifications can be requested in certain circumstances for many family court orders. This includes orders that were reached through litigation and mediated separation agreements that were approved and entered into the court. Several orders in a divorce or separation can be modified if there has been a significant change in the life of either parent or a child.
When Can Modifications Be Made?
If both ex-spouses or parents agree on a modification, they may be able to make the change and submit it to the court. However, the change must still be reasonable, and for child-related orders, it must be beneficial to the child.
If the two parties do not agree on the modification, the party that wants a modification made must petition the court for it. They would have to prove a material change in circumstances in order for the modification to be approved. A change in circumstances may include:
- A change in income or employment
- Illness or injury of one party
- The changing needs of a child
Each court order has different requirements for a material change in circumstance, and these changes must be continuous and substantial.
Material Changes for Spousal Maintenance
There are restrictions on the Kansas court’s ability to modify spousal maintenance. In order to modify this order, the following must be true:
- One or both spouses experienced a relevant and material change; and
- Any change that requires the increase of payments or liability of the paying party can only be made with that party’s consent.
A change in circumstance that allows for the modification of spousal maintenance could include:
- A substantial change in either party’s income.
- Tax consequences of spousal maintenance that were not accounted for.
- New property or financial acquisitions by either spouse.
- Changes in the financial needs of either party, such as increased medical bills.
Material Changes for Child Support
There does not always have to be a material change in circumstances to modify child support. A change can also be made if it has been three years since the support order was created or last modified, and a modification would be appropriate.
If it has been less than three years, there must be a significant change in circumstances. This includes:
- There is a change in the child’s age group, and they have turned 6 or 12
- The custody arrangement has changed
- The income of either parent has changed, and the change to support would be a 10% or more difference
The court can alter future support payments but can’t change the payments in months past or the current month.
Material Changes for Child Custody and Visitation
Visitation orders are much easier to successfully modify than child custody orders. A change in circumstance must be extraordinary to modify child custody. The court assumes that a stable child custody plan is preferable to the child’s interests unless shown otherwise. Visitation modification must be in the child’s interest. A material change in circumstances for modification of custody or visitation may include:
- One parent with joint custody or the sole custodial parent can no longer provide for the child’s care and support.
- One parent is consistently denying or interfering with a parenting plan or visitation rights without reason.
- One parent is not able to continue the same custody or visitation schedule.
- Either parent wants to relocate.
- The child has gotten older, and their wishes have changed.
- One of the parents is subjecting the child to an unsafe living environment, which could include neglect, substance abuse, or domestic violence and abuse.
Modifying a child custody order is not easy and is more likely to be successful with an experienced modification attorney.
Q: What Is a Material Change of Circumstances in Kansas?
A: The exact material change in circumstances depends on the type of court order that you are requesting to modify. Support or maintenance orders are usually financially based. Custody orders may depend on the ability of parents or the needs of the child. A significant change in circumstance could include:
- An increase or decrease in either party’s income
- Either party’s loss of employment
- A joint-custodial parent wishes to relocate
- Either party gains new assets or property
- Either party has increased financial needs
- A child has new financial needs, such as medical costs or schooling
Many modifications revolving around children must also be in the child’s interests.
Q: How Often Can Child Support Be Modified in Kansas?
A: Child support is reviewed every three years to determine if modification is appropriate. They may determine it appropriate to reflect the changing needs of the child. If a parent needs the orders modified prior to that three-year mark, they must demonstrate a significant and material change in circumstances. This may include a change in income or modification of support to reflect modification to child custody.
Q: What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in Kansas?
A: A child can legally choose which parent they want to live with once they have turned 18. Prior to then, the court will take the child’s wishes into account when creating custody orders, but the court is not required to reflect those wishes. The closer a child is to 18, the more likely the court is to take their wishes into account. If the child’s interests conflict with the child’s wishes, the court will prioritize their interests.
Q: Does Kansas Child Support Go Up With Age?
A: Child support payments remain the same unless they are modified at the three-year review point or because of a modification request. These payments do not increase with age, as a rule, but if the child’s financial needs increase as they age, the payments will reflect that. A modification request can be made for a substantial change in circumstances. Either type of support modification may increase or decrease payments, depending on the child’s needs and the financial ability of each parent.
Family Court Order Modification in Wichita
If you are looking to modify a court order for your divorce or separation, it’s important to gather evidence of a material change in circumstance. Contact Stange Law Firm to see how our attorneys can determine if you are eligible for modification and help you gather that evidence.