In life, change is inevitable. If changes in your circumstances have made your existing parenting plan or child support order unworkable, it’s time to consider a modification. A motion to modify an existing custody, visitation or support order may be filed any time before the child in question turns eighteen.
In Alaska, more than in many other states, parents experience the types of changes in circumstance that would make a modification of custody, visitation, or child support appropriate.
For example, many people work in seasonal occupations where income is irregular or may drop off precipitously. Similarly, the fact that many Alaska residents are in the military and are required to move on a regular basis may warrant a change in their custody arrangements or visitation schedule.
At Colbert Family Law, LLC we are experienced with these and many other life changes that Alaskans go through. We have assisted numerous clients in reaching agreement with their children’s other parent about parenting plan modifications that will work best for their family, and then getting the court to approve the agreement. As in other areas of our family law practice, we believe in reaching agreement and reducing conflict whenever possible in pursuing a parenting plan modification.
If it’s not possible to reach a negotiated agreement about parenting plan modification for our clients, we also have extensive litigation experience. We know how to make the case that there has been a change in a family’s circumstances, and that the specific modification our client is pursuing will be in the children’s best interests.
Colbert Family Law, LLC serves clients throughout Alaska, from Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley to remote villages. If your support order or parenting plan is out of step with your family’s current needs, contact Colbert Family Law, LLC online or at (907) 279-5001 to schedule a consultation to learn about your options for modification of your existing court order or parenting plan.
The collaborative approach (for more information on this, go to www.alaskacollaborative.org) is suitable for many legal issues in addition to divorce. Family legal issues are very sensitive and personal. Many - if not most - clients would like to address their problems in a way that is less public and less confrontational than going to court. The collaborative process meets this need. It can be used to negotiate pre-and post-nuptial agreements; child support; child custody modifications; college support issues; and most other family legal problems you may face. It is also very useful for negotiating relationship contracts and break-ups for couples who are not legally married. If you find yourself in any of these situations, we would be happy to try to help you.
We get a lot of calls from people who are unhappy with their existing custody and visitation orders. Either the order does not reflect what is really happening, the schedule is not working, or there is no schedule at all and the parties are having constant arguments over visitation. The law allows you to ask the court to modify a custody or visitation order at any time, but you must to prove a “substantial change of circumstances.” What does this mean? If one parent is planning to leave the state, with or without the children, this is automatically considered a “substantial change.” The court will determine whether the children should go or stay and what the new visitation will be, if the parents can’t agree. On the other hand, some people have orders that do not specify visitation at all, but say things like “liberal visitation” or “visitation as arranged between the parents.” Orders like this are impossible to enforce, so if you are not getting visitation, you need to ask the court to modify the order to specify what you get. If things have changed because, for example, the children are older the schedule was designed for preschoolers, you can ask the court to change the schedule. Finally, if you think the other parent is harming the children somehow, you can move to modify the custody and/or the visitation. But remember that the change has to be substantial; you will waste your time if you go to court over trivial issues like haircuts or footwear.
Before going to court, or hiring a lawyer to go to court for you, give serious thought to what change you want, and what would work both for you and for the children. The court can only change an order if it is in the “best interests of the children.” You might save time and money by consulting with a lawyer before you decide whether to ask for a modification, even if you decide to do that actual work yourself.