Child Custody & Child Support Modification Attorneys in Boise, Idaho

The outcome after a divorce is not always permanent.  Life happens, changes constantly, and sometimes the agreements made regarding child custody, visitation, and child support also need to change.

Often, parents agree to changes in child custody, visitation schedules, or child support without involving the court or lawyers. This may seem easier and cheaper than going to court.  However, it gives a tremendous advantage to one parent because he or she can leverage those changes to manipulate their former spouse.  When parents agree to a support or custody modification, it should be presented to a judge so an order modifying the divorce decree can be issued.

At Fulcher Koontz Law, we will assist you with post-divorce modifications. We strive to move quickly so that custody and support are modified appropriately to meet your current needs.  We will listen to your story and find out how your life has changed.  After we have heard your story, we will discuss your goals. We will educate you about the steps that need to be taken to make a post-divorce modification.

What Is Required to Change an Existing Order?

Child support and child custody orders may be modified only by court order. Idaho courts require a significant or “material changes in circumstances” of either parent in order to grant changes in custody or support. Requests for changes in custody must show that the living circumstances of the child have changed significantly. Requests for changes in child support must show that the income of one or both parents has changed significantly.

What qualifies as a “material change in circumstances?”

Examples of material change of circumstances for custody modification include:

Geographic Move. If a custodial parent makes a move out of state, or an in-state move that will seriously disrupt the stability of the child’s life, that move may constitute a changed circumstance that justifies the court’s modification of a custody or visitation order. Some courts switch custody from one parent to the other.  However, the more common approach is to ask the parents to work out a plan under which both parents may continue to have significant contact with their children.  If no agreement is reached, courts will carefully examine the best interests of the child and make a decision about which parent should have custody.

Lifestyle Change. Changes in custody or visitation orders may be obtained if substantial changes in a parent’s lifestyle threatens or harms the child. If a custodial parent begins working at night and leaving a child home alone, the other parent may request a change in custody. If a non-custodial parent begins drinking heavily or abusing drugs, the custodial parent may request to modify the visitation order (requesting that visits occur when the parent is sober, or in the presence of another adult). Common reasons people file custody modification suits include:

  • New spouse or boy/girlfriend of one parent has problems with child
  • Safety issue regarding child
  • Change in residence of child from one parent to another
  • Standard visitation order incompatible with one or both parents’ work schedules
  • Special medical or educational needs of child
  • Limit or remove visitation under certain circumstances

Examples of material change of circumstances for child support modification include:

  • Loss of job
  • Loss of ability to work due to disability
  • Significant pay raise
  • Change in custody

Can any court modify my existing custody or child support order?

Custody & Visitation:  The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) deals with child custody and visitation. It requires an original action to be started in the home state of the child. The home state is typically where the child has lived for 6 months or, if the child is not 6 months old, then where the child has lived primarily since birth. Suits to modify prior custody orders are brought in the same state and the same court from which the original order came, unless:

  1. there is a new home state of the children (they have been living in a new state for 6 months or more); and
  2. there no longer exists sufficient evidence in the original state to make a lawsuit there practical.

Child Support:  Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), as long as a parent is still residing in the original state where the first child support order was issued, any modification of that support order will remain in that state. If both parents move from the original state, then the parent who wants to modify the child support must go to the state of the other parent and file the action. Once the action is filed and an order is entered, it will stay in that state until a parent no longer resides there.

What can I do if my ex-spouse is violating the existing custody or support order?

Having a court order does not always mean that it will be obeyed by the parties to the order. A parent who fails to pay child support is in violation of the court’s support order.  A parent that prevents the other parent from exercising their visitation rights or otherwise interferes with custody is in violation of the court’s custody order.

If a parent violates the order, the court can issue a subpoena ordering that parent to appear before the court and show good cause as to why they have not obeyed.  If the court is not satisfied with the reasons given for violating the order, the court can take further action, including assessing fines, hold the violating parent in contempt of court orders, or even order the violating parent to jail.

In most child support cases, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare Child Support Services will assist a parent entitled to receive support in obtaining enforcement from the court without additional attorney fees. However, in some cases, collecting support is beyond the reach of the child support agency, and the parent needs to hire a private attorney.

At Fulcher Koontz Law, we work closely with our clients to understand how their circumstances have changed and how to present changes to the court to achieve our clients’ goals. While we strive to negotiate with both parents prior to presenting a modification or enforcement request to the court, we will aggressively litigate when necessary.

Let’s Discuss the Results You Want to Achieve

Call FULCHER KOONTZ LAW at (208) 888-9980 or send us an e-mail to schedule an initial consultation about your case.