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In Divorce And Other Family Law Matters

Modifications To Child Support And Spousal Maintenance Terms

Often, after parties enter into an agreement or after the court has made a final determination concerning support issues, one of the parties experiences a change in his or her life circumstances that impact either the ability to pay support or the need to receive support. When such circumstance occurs, support issues may be reviewed by the court. In order to determine whether the individual (petitioner) has a right to modify a support court order, the court will examine various factors. Upward and downward modifications of support orders are not easily achieved. The experienced Nassau County modification attorney at the law firm of Jane K. Cristal, P.C., will provide sure guidance and strategies to prepare your matter for court.

Modification Attorney Serving Nassau County And Long Island

In the case of the person seeking relief (petitioner) from an agreement or an order entered into prior to the effective date of the new law, before filing a petition to seek an upward or downward modification of child support or spousal maintenance, the petitioner must thoroughly analyze the facts that will be presented to the court, taking into consideration the procedural aspects of the matter. For example, the legal standard upon which any review of a final order of support is based, differs depending on whether the order is based upon a court determination or an agreement between the parties.

To begin the proceedings, the court will need to know whether the petitioner is seeking to have the court issue an order that is not consistent with the terms and conditions of the parties’ existing marital agreement after divorce or whether the petitioner is seeking a review of an existing court-determined support order. In a case where the parties freely entered into a support agreement, the court will be hesitant to issue an order that impacts the support obligations of the contract. Therefore, the court will require a higher standard of proof concerning the need to grant the requested relief. The court will be more willing to review its own order. In any event the court will scrutinize the facts of each case before making its determination. Preparation is key.

Statute provides that a court has the authority to modify an order of support upon proof of a “substantial change in circumstances”, a legal term that essentially means that the facts of each case must be examined, and the court is permitted to undertake this analysis even where the support order is based upon a written agreement between the parties. Further, the courts are now able to review an order of child support three years after the date of the last order of support or where there has been a 15% or more change in either party’s gross income since the date of the last order. The usual standards requiring that a reduction of income be found to be involuntary and that diligent efforts have been made to maintain the prior level of income still apply.

Agreement Modifications

Settlement agreements made during a divorce govern the rights and obligations of each spouse and their children very often for many years after the divorce. As years pass and life happens, circumstances upon which the agreement was based change and the terms of the agreement may no longer properly fit the situation. A job loss or transfer, remarriage, substantial increase or decrease in income, medical emergency or other changes in life can make it necessary to seek a modification of the settlement agreement. Jane K. Cristal, P.C., can review your agreement and your particular facts in order to determine whether there is, legally, a change in circumstances sufficient to justify a modification of the settlement agreement.

Contact a Nassau County modification attorney at Jane K. Cristal, P.C., for assistance when seeking a modification in child support or spousal maintenance awards.