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    Family Law

    ● Contested and Uncontested Divorce
    ● Divorce with Children
    ● Property Division
    ● Dividing Inheritance
    ● Alimony and Spousal Support
    ● Temporary Orders
    ● Domestic Violence
    ● Small Business Interests
    ● Mediation

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    Custody modification is a legal procedure that is used to change custody arrangements between parents. This may be done for many reasons, including changes in the family such as a parent or guardian getting remarried, or in response to any concerns of abuse or neglect.

    What are Divorce Decree Modifications?

    The process of divorce, from initial filing to the finalized agreement, can be a very lengthy one and is almost certainly full of life changes for everyone involved. When any substantial shift occurs that modifies the life circumstances of one or more parties, the divorce decree may need to be modified in turn to reflect that.

    A modification case requires the same diligence and exacting standards as a divorce case, but with thornier and more exacting requirements to justify any substantial changes. Oregon courts in particular tend to aim for consistency, especially when children are involved, and require a much higher burden of proof as well as the expected forms and hearings in order to modify an existing agreement.

    The most common modifications involve spousal support and child custody, but there are a range of changes that might be requested, including: 

    • Custody Changes
    • Modifying a Child Support Agreement
    • Updating Parenting Plans
    • Changes to Spousal Support Agreements
    • Requesting Supervised Parenting Time
    • Immediate Danger Hearings
    • Status Quo Hearings
    • Contempt Hearings

    Common Reasons to Modify an Agreement

    Moving a significant distance away

    Generally, within a custody agreement, moving a certain distance away from the other parent’s home isn’t an issue. If you’re moving more than 60 miles or out of state, however, there are many factors that Oregon courts consider when deciding if this change infringes on the other parent’s custodial rights. 

    No matter how far away a non-custodial parent is from their child, they must still follow any court orders regarding parenting time until a modified parenting agreement has been reached. When Oregon courts are considering a relocation case, they’re looking at things like how far the child would have to travel to see both parents, whether relocating will improve their educational opportunities or chances to pursue their interests, and whether the child’s quality of life will improve enough to justify separation from one parent.

    Increase or Decrease of income

    When one party experiences a decrease in income such as loss of employment, disability status or incarceration, a motion may be filed to reduce their child or spousal support order to better reflect their current circumstances. In the same right, if one party experiences a substantial increase in income, the other party may petition the court for an increase in support. 

    Immediate Danger Statutes 

    Immediate changes to child custody or parenting time can take weeks or months to reach court, which can be frightening as well as frustrating if you believe your child to be in any kind of danger. 

    Oregon has two types of emergency custody statutes: one before a custody judgment has been entered and one after, both providing for the custody of a minor if the court finds them to be in immediate danger. 

    What does Oregon define as “immediate danger?” Neither statute actually defines this. How a motion is presented to the court as well as what support and documentation you provide is crucial, because differences of opinion exist between judges. If you believe your child to be in immediate danger while in another parent’s custody, we urge you to contact an experienced family law attorney.

    Change of Heart

    Emotions are often heightened during a legal battle, and parents can find themselves fighting for extreme measures such as obtaining sole custody of children. When the time has passed and cooler heads prevail, they may realize that they want the other parent to play a role in their child’s life after all. 

    Parents are required to follow any orders laid down by the courts until a new agreement has been reached, so an unofficial change of heart doesn’t automatically allow either parent to enact those changes. If the terms of your divorce no longer reflect your current goals or intentions, you may need to seek a modification that better reflects your new opinion or situation.

    Here for You Every Step of the Way

    At our law firm, we have helped many families work through these issues and more. If you would like to learn more about the process of divorce or custody modification, a consultation with our attorneys is just a phone call away.

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