You cannot always predict what the future will hold. Sometimes after a divorce, your circumstances change. When this happens, a post-decree modification changing child custody, child support, and/or spousal maintenance can help.
Changing Spousal Support or Child Support
Spousal support and/or child support orders are determined by the obligor's financial position/ability to pay and the obligee's financial needs. Sometimes, however, a change in circumstances will warrant a modification. These changes in circumstances usually have to be significant to modify the order. You should discuss this with a knowledgeable family law attorney in your state to help you determine whether your facts justify a modification.
Child Custody and Parenting Time Post-Decree Modifications
Minnesota courts focus on the “best interests” of that child when deciding child custody and parenting time issues.
Best Interests of a Child
A: If two or more parties seek custody of a child, the court must consider and evaluate all relevant factors in determining the best interests of the child, including the following factors:
- The wishes of the party or parties as to custody
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference
- The child's primary caretaker
- The intimacy of the relationship between each party and the child
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with a party or parties, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests
- The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; except that a disability, as defined in section 363A.03, subdivision 12, of a proposed custodian or the child shall not be determinative of the custody of the child, unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child
- The capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child's culture and religion or creed, if any
- The child's cultural background
- The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if related to domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, subdivision 2, that has occurred between the parents or the parties
B: The court may not use one factor to the exclusion of all others. The court must make detailed findings on each of the factors and explain how the factors led to its conclusions and to the determination of the best interests of the child.
C: The court must not give preference to a party over the de facto custodian or interested third party solely because the party is a parent of the child.
D: The court must not prefer a parent over the de facto custodian or third party custodian solely on the basis of the gender of the parent, de facto custodian, or third party.
E: The fact that the parents of the child are not or were never married to each other must not be determinative of the custody of the child.
F: The court must consider evidence of a violation of section 609.507 in determining the best interests of the child.
G: The court must not consider conduct of a proposed custodian that does not affect the custodian's relationship to the child.
H: Section 518.619 applies to actions under this section.
Generally, unless “the court finds that there is persistent and willful denial or interference with parenting time, or has reason to believe that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development” (Minnesota Statue 518.18(c)), there are time limitations imposed on when modifications may be filed and approved.
If you need to know whether your change in circumstances justify a post-decree modification or if your spouse is threatening to file a post-decree modification, contact an experienced family law attorney today.From the author: Minneapolis Divorce Attorney Chris Banas