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How Frequently Can You Request Modifications to Family Court Orders in Nebraska?

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Can Court Orders Be Changed?

Maybe you are divorced and your Decree is final, along with a court-ordered Parenting Plan and Financial Plan for your child(ren). Maybe you were never married to your child(ren)’s other parent but have paternity and support and custody established. What happens when your circumstances change and the orders in place no longer work for your situation?

In order to permanently change court orders in place (whether through a divorce or custody/paternity matter), a Complaint to Modify must be filed in Court. To succeed in a modification action, the requesting party must prove “a material and substantial change in circumstances” first, and then that the proposed change is in the child(ren)’s best interests.

What Kind of Changes May Lead to Modifying Court Orders?

Note that not just any change is enough to modify court orders. The change must be substantial enough that the original orders would not have been put in place if the Court had known about the change.

Child support is the easiest to change and only requires a change upward or downward in income that would change child support by 10% or more. The change needs to have been ongoing for a period of time and expected to continue in the future (6 months is the general guideline). Child support cannot be lowered just because one party has an after-born child to support, but an after-born child may prevent support from being raised in certain circumstances.

Parenting time is medium in difficulty to change. Here, it may be that one or both parents have moved or a parent’s work schedule has changed, for example.

Custody is the most difficult modification to make and generally legal and physical custody can only be modified with a major change in circumstances. One example would be unfitness by a parent, such as incarceration or legal troubles related to substance abuse. Another would be one parent moving out of state (if the custodial parent wants to relocate with the minor child(ren), this is called “removal” in Nebraska).

How Often Can You Modify Court Orders?

There is no limit to how often or how many modifications may be filed, but Nebraska Courts generally disfavor coming back to court often. The primary limit is the requirement of material and substantial change in circumstances. For example, if parents did not get along at the time of the last order and they still don’t get along, that alone would likely not be enough.

All modifications require filing a Complaint to Modify and giving the other party notice. The other party has time to Answer. Discovery may be required (such as to gain financial information from the other side in a support modification or work schedule information in a parenting time modification). Unless the parents are in agreement that a change is needed and what needs to be changed, the process requires litigation and it is strongly advised that you work with an experienced Nebraska family law attorney.

How Do You Modify a Spousal Support Order?

To modify a spousal support (alimony) order, the party requesting the modification must demonstrate good cause by proving a material change in financial circumstances. Unlike child support cases, there are no state guidelines for alimony/spousal support.

When a spousal support order modification request is made by either ex-spouse, the court will compare the financial circumstances of both parties at the time of their divorce with their current financial circumstances and will take into account any other factors that are pertinent to the case.

If the changes in financial circumstances may be attributed merely to the passage of time or to any circumstance that was able to be contemplated by the parties or Court at the time of the original order, a spousal support modification request will probably be denied.

What Else Should You Know About Court Order Modifications?

Whether your request to modify a court order will be approved or denied will depend on the specific facts of the case. Nothing is guaranteed. Whether you are requesting a court order modification or challenging a request that has been made by the other party, you must have the sound legal advice of a family law attorney from the very beginning to protect your interests.

Note that child support and spousal support payments become due on the 1st of each month and are not modifiable after that time, so time is of the essence if you are ordered to pay an amount that you cannot pay due to a change in circumstances.

If you fail to take action and you miss any spousal or child support payments, you could be held in contempt of court and be penalized with jail time, so you must have legal counsel immediately.

Let GordenLaw LLC Help

If you need to modify a court order in Nebraska, GordenLaw LLC offers the legal advice and services you will need. Vanessa J. Gorden, Owner/Attorney, handles every type of family law case: divorces, custody disputes, court order modifications including removal, and paternity cases.

She will help you understand the requirements for modifying a court order and will guide you through the process from the beginning. She will file the legal paperwork, prepare you for any hearings, and accompany you when those hearings take place.

Vanessa J. Gorden is an award-winning Nebraska attorney who has built a reputation for courtroom excellence and extraordinary client service. If you need to change a family law court order, schedule your strategy session with GordenLaw LLC by calling 402-817-1450 or emailing at [email protected] today! 

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