Q: Can I get child support arrears if the other parent hasn’t been following the agreed upon parenting time?
Two years ago I signed an agreement to share 50/50 parenting time. However, shortly after the agreement and child support order was modified the other parent no longer allowed one of his children to visit due to behavior issues and therefore neither child has been at the other parent’s house for an overnight for more than 6 nights in the past 2 years. I have been so busy working out of town that I have not filed for modification. I have the paperwork to file but I feel like may be I should try to get full custody. The other parent has not really attempted much involvement in their life. Also, should I try to get full custody and should I get a lawyer for the parenting plan modification and child support arrears.
Your question presents a complex and unique situation that cannot be answered here.
Generally, a modification of child custody requires a substantial change of circumstance since the time of the most recent award of custody. Once a person demonstrates a substantial change of circumstances, then the court will consider the second step of the analysis--whether the modification is in the child's best interests.
In determining the best interests of the child, the court considers the following relevant factors:
(a) The emotional ties between the child and other family members;
(b) The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child;
( c) The desirability of continuing an existing relationship;
(d) The abuse of one parent by the other;
(e) The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court; and
(f) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
A substantial change in circumstances is not required for reconsideration of parenting time. Instead, the court’s sole focus is the child’s best interests, and the court will consider the factors listed above in addition to other relevant factors.
To modify child support there has to be a substantial change in economic circumstances. A change in the parenting plan might be the basis for modification of child support.
Contact a lawyer, your local legal services office, or the courthouse (if your county has a facilitator program) to learn about what you can do. There is a court fee to file a modification case, unless you qualify for a fee waiver or deferral.
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