It is tough to know when it’s appropriate to modify a past child support or custody/parenting time order. A standard that courts look at is “a material change in circumstances,” which may seem vague and overbroad to many people. Here are a few examples of situations that may warrant modifying a support order: One parent changes jobs or obtains a promotion and makes a significant amount more or less than before; when a child is around 16 years old and planning to continue his/her education; if a child spends more or less time with one parent than before (the more time a child spends with one parent, in theory, the more the other parent should have to contribute to assist that parent who has the child for more time); and the length of time from the original court order.
If college is not discussed or provided for in a court order, it can be revisited later when the child is in high school and considering pursuing higher education. At that point, it becomes much more relevant and costs can be ascertained rather than be merely speculative.
Here are a few examples of situations that may warrant modifying a custody/parenting time order: Extracurricular activities are getting in the way of a parent’s time with his/her child and the other parent isn’t accommodating to switch days; an old parenting schedule or holiday schedule doesn’t work as the child gets older or traditions have changed; vacation or holiday time is absent from the agreement and becomes an issue later on; disputes arise about taking the child on vacations out of state; if either parent moves out of state or has a new job requiring a new schedule/parenting plan; or any type of disagreement about how the child should spend time with each parent, which never made its way into an official court order.
If there are issues with the original court order and the old order doesn’t seem to work anymore for your situation, a modification may be appropriate, especially if the other parent does not want to accommodate a request for an unofficial change to the existing order. Child support and custody/parenting time can be easily modifiable, since there are many situations that may arise that can be interpreted as “material” and significant in nature.