When you settled your divorce, you probably felt a huge sense of relief to finally be done. However, when children are involved, a “final” decree isn’t always that final. These are some common questions that parents often face after divorce at some point.
1. What can cause the court to revisit the issues of custody, visitation and support?
As your child ages, his or her emotional and financial needs may change. For example, the emotional and financial needs of an infant may differ significantly from that of a teenager. As a child ages, a custody arrangement that worked may not keep working — especially once the child is able to vocalize his or her preferences.
The financial and living situation of either parent can also change drastically over the years. A parent who has recently lost a job may have less ability to provide financial support to his or her children, while a parent who has recently been promoted may be able to contribute more support.
2. If both parents agree to a modification of support does the court have to be involved?
It’s a serious mistake to try to handle those issues outside of court, even if you’re on the best of terms with your ex-spouse.
Unless a judge’s order modifies your support order, you are still responsible for whatever support is listed in the original order, even if you and your ex-spouse agree to something different. Similarly, if you increase your support because you get a raise, but hand the difference directly to your ex-spouse instead of having it withdrawn from your paycheck as part of your official support, it doesn’t count as having been paid. That could leave you on the hook for extra money from the date of your raise forward if your ex-spouse takes it to court.
3. Can visitation or custody be modified at the child’s request?
The court can consider a child’s preferences when it comes to visitation and custody, but the child’s preferences aren’t the sole deciding factor. Instead, the court looks at a number of factors, including the child’s behavior and emotional development, when it comes to deciding what is in that child’s best interests.
Visitation isn’t likely to be denied unless the court is convinced it would harm the child.
If you’d like to discuss an issue regarding custody or visitation, talk to an attorney for specific advice.
Source: Nebraskalegislature.gov, “Nebraska Revised Statute 42-364,” accessed March 23, 2017