What Circumstances Would Call For An Emergency Modification To A Child Custody Order?
Circumstances that would call for an emergency modification to a child custody order often involve substance abuse and domestic violence. Unfortunately, we see cases where a parent has become addicted to substances or there’s evidence of domestic violence with a new partner. The child’s life could be in danger because of what’s going on. If it’s a true emergency, the judges expect the parents to report it to child protective services (CPS). CPS investigates those issues and can get emergency custody orders. It’s usually hard to convince the judge that an emergency has occurred if the parents haven’t contacted the agency that actually investigates those emergencies. People sometimes think that CPS won’t do anything. As a result, they skip that step and go straight to an attorney. However, it all has to work together. They can still file a motion for emergency custody with an attorney, but they need to do it properly. If a child’s health or mental emotional state is at risk, an emergency modification is possible.
Once A Modification To A Child Custody Or Support Order Is Granted By The Court, How Long Does It Take Before The Modification Takes Effect?
When a modification for a child custody or child support order is filed, the court will often refer the case back to mediation. If someone comes to us in May and they want to change their child’s school for the fall, they’ve probably waited too long to petition the modification. If the motion is filed in May, the judge may require them to go to mediation first to try to resolve the matter. The mediation may not happen until July. If that is the case, they won’t get into court before the start of the school year. Therefore, it’s important to give months of lead time to prepare the case, file the motion, and go through the process. In most cases, it can take months for a modification to be granted. Even if you get into court in July, the judge can take his or her time to make a decision. They don’t have to make a decision on the spot after a two or three-hour modification hearing.
You also have to give judge the time to put things in writing and make the new order effective. We tell our clients that it can easily take six months from start to finish – from the filing of the motion to getting a decision. It can be shorter in some circumstances, but it can also be longer. It depends on the number of issues in play. The matter of an emergency won’t take as long as a person planning to move the following year.
If I Petition The Court For A Custody Or Child Support Modification, Is It Possible To End Up With A Less Favorable Result Than What I Have Now?
If a client petitions for a custody or child support modification that would seem to yield unfavorable results, we would advise them of that possibility. If a client asks for more time and the other side doesn’t file another motion to reduce the time, the court only has the issue of considering whether that parent should have more time. Unless there damaging facts against the parent that asks, normally it doesn’t get worse.
In regard to child support, you have to be careful how you file a modification. We recently had a case where the mom was frustrated that the dad had filed a motion to modify support. However, when we started looking at the petition, he just filed it to modify. Technically, the modification could increase or decrease the support. The dad thought it was going to be reduced, but when we ran the numbers, it actually increased the support. The mom didn’t want to deal with it, but she was happy that he petitioned for the modification. In end, the child support was increased. Somebody who blindly files a modification can end up with a less favorable result.
A person can incur less favorable results with custody or parenting time as well. If a parent files a modification against the other parent, but fails to analyze their own situation at home, they could end up with an unfavorable outcome if something damaging was found. It’s always possible. It shows the importance of not blindly filing things at the courthouse or acting as your own attorney.
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