If I Move Out During Our Divorce and Leave My Children With My Spouse, Could That Be Used Against Me in Determining Custody?
As a general rule, moving out probably won’t negatively impact your custody case, unless you were to leave the child in a situation where there could be neglect or abuse. We have clients who express concerns to us about their spouse not meeting the child’s medical needs or making sure the child completes their homework; then that client, without talking with us, leaves the child with their spouse for a few days while they go on a business trip but takes no steps to ensure that the child is properly taken care of during those days. If a person has concerns about the other parent, they need to remember to act on those, even if the divorce is not yet pending or the case isn’t close to being over. A judge will not listen to your concerns about the other parent if you voluntarily act in a way that goes against the concerns you express. It’s best for your custody case if the judge sees you’ve made arrangements to address the child’s needs, such as bringing in another caregiver or a grandparent to shore up any deficiencies while you’re away.
Kentucky is a state where there’s a presumption that the parties should share joint custody, both on the legal front and the physical front. A parent doesn’t need to keep a child tied to their hip during a divorce unless there’s good reason to do so, and if there is, then perhaps there needs to be restrictions on that child being left with the other parent.
We look at custody on a case-by-case situation, and we can help a client think through the best steps to take to match their legal strategy once they come in and meet with us, either in-person or virtually.
What Final Divorce Orders Can Actually Be Modified?
Any orders regarding a child can be subject to review by the court until that child becomes an adult or is otherwise “off the map”, as we say. Those orders can include custody, parenting time, child support, which spouse must claim the child on taxes, health insurance, and any other financial issue related to the child. Modifications regarding the child can happen at any time after the divorce is over.
Divorce orders that are very hard to modify involve the division of property. Changes there generally cannot be made absent some kind of special circumstance, such as fraud or discovery of an undisclosed or misrepresented asset that affects the division of property. A judge isn’t going to review the order just because somebody’s not happy that they only got this much from the house or kept this piece of property. Something had to have clearly gone wrong in the initial divorce settlement or during the court case for a judge to engage with modifications for property.
The one other area that’s also subject to modification in a lot of cases is maintenance, also referred to as alimony and spousal support. Support orders that don’t pertain to the child directly but affect one of the spouses can be modified, unless the divorce agreement specifically said the maintenance obligation was non-modifiable, which is somewhat of a common thing. If the couple agrees that the husband will pay $1,000 a month in maintenance for five years and that it’s non-modifiable, that provision will be enforced in court. If, however, it just says the husband will pay $1,000 a month in maintenance for five years, then that would be reviewable by the court within those five years.
To summarize, ongoing financial obligations, maintenance, child support or anything to do with the child are reviewable and modifiable. If the divorce order says that they aren’t supposed to modify alimony or if it has anything to do with the property, those are going to be the points that generally cannot be modified absent some pretty extreme circumstances.
For more information on Family Law in Kentucky, an initial consultation is your best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (502) 512-0024 today.
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