When the parents of a minor child decide to end their marriage, one of the most important issues that must be addressed during the ensuing divorce proceedings is custody of the minor children. Custody is actually divided into two types – physical and legal. Physical custody of a child refers to the right to have the child live with you the majority of the time. Legal custody of a child refers to the right to make major decisions for the child relating to things such as religion, education, and medical treatment. Custody may be sole or joint. Courts typically grant sole physical custody to one parent while granting the other parent visitation and access rights. Legal custody is more often granted jointly to both parents. Circumstances may change after the original custody order is issued that warrant revisiting the issue of custody. When that is the case, a parent may petition the court for a modification of custody. While a court can modify custody, the parent requesting the modification must convince the court that doing so is in the “best interest of the child.” Because judges are often reluctant to change the “status quo,” it can be an uphill battle to modify custody unless the other parent is in agreement. For this reason, if you wish to pursue a modification of custody in Kansas or Missouri it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney early in the process to discuss your legal options and strategy.
Child support is ordered when the parents of a minor child divorce or when paternity is established for a child born out of wedlock. Once a court has made a determination of support it becomes an order of the court. Violating that order can have serious consequences, up to, and including, incarceration. If you have been ordered to pay child support in Kansas or Missouri, and find that your circumstances have changed causing you to be unable to fulfill your child support obligation, you may be able to modify your child support order. Conversely, if you are the recipient of child support, and your circumstances have changed causing you to need additional support from the child’s other parent, you may also be able to modify the child support order. Either parent may request a modification of child support if at least three years have passed since the initial child support order or if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” that warrants a review of the support amount. Because you may only get one chance to get your child support order modified, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney if you wish to pursue a modification of child support.