The court can modify its orders on many family law issues. These issues include custody, parenting time, child support, and, sometimes, spousal maintenance.
Custody and Parenting Time
A parent can seek to modify custody one year after the court enters its order. A parent can seek to modify sooner than one year only if the parent can show that there is a serious threat to the health, safety or welfare of the children. The parent seeking a change will have to show that there is a change in circumstances warranting the change. The court will examine the same factors in a custody modification as it examines in making the initial custody determination.
A parent can seek to modify parenting time sooner than one year, but longer than six months, after the court enters its order if that parent can show that the other parent has failed to abide by the court's parenting time orders.
There is no time limit on when a parent can seek to modify child support, but the parent must show a significant and ongoing change in circumstances. A "significant" change in circumstances usually means a change sufficient to cause a 15% change in the child support calculation. An "ongoing" changes means that the change is not temporary. A court cannot change a child support order retroactively to a date before the party requesting the change made the request to the court.
Sometimes, a court may modify spousal maintenance. A court may modify spousal maintenance during the period which the court ordered a party to pay, if the parties have not agreed that spousal maintenance will be non-modifiable. If a court declines to award spousal maintenance in a divorce, it may not later modify that order, with very narrow exceptions.
Like child support, there is not time limit on when a former spouse may seek to modify spousal maintenance, but her or she must show a significant and ongoing change of circumstances. The only exception is that a former spouse may not seek to modify an award of spousal maintenance after the duration of the award expires.