Legal (Custody, alimony & support), Need some help, Tips & Lists

Co-parenting Mythbuster: Custody Agreements

There are a myriad of reasons and a large number of co-parents who make incremental changes to their child custody plans. Find out what’s myth vs. truth.
(2 min 54 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

What most people may not realize is that there are a myriad of reasons and a large number of co-parents who make incremental changes to their child custody plans. There are plenty of cases where flipping weekends or swapping a weekday night come into play.

Business trips pop up. Birthdays, vacations, field trips happen, the list goes on and on. But what can you do when a more substantial or long term change pops up and one or both co-parents want to avoid (another) court proceeding?

We understand that some key ‘big’ life changes trigger a change to your child custody schedule for example if your child is in danger (*the most common), if one parent moves, if one co-parent consistently violates the current schedule or a parent dies. In most cases, you need to file a case for the change.

Sometimes, parents can’t agree to a change in child support. In that case, you’ll have to file a motion (written request) with the court, asking for the modification and explaining how there’s been a change in circumstances since the date of the last support order.

The key issue is whether circumstances have changed enough to justify amending the existing support order. There are a few common events that tend to warrant a child support modification.

These may vary from state to state, but some of the more common ones are:

  • a co-parent has become responsible for the support of a new child
  • there’s been a substantial change in how much time the child stays with each parent
  • a co-parent has become disabled
  • the child’s needs have changed, such as the child develops special medical or educational needs
  • a co-parent has been incarcerated
  • a co-parent gets a new job with a higher income
  • a co-parent involuntarily loses a job or experiences a reduction in income

In these cases, being organized and providing a clear outline of changes (receipts of new expenses, proof of changes in schedule, job, income taxes, etc.) to support your portion of the case would be needed. Although common sense comes into play when judging whether your new situation warrants a change in child support and/or alimony, it can get complicated.

In more minor cases where you feel you do not warrant changes in child or spousal support, a new co-parenting schedule can be drafted out of court and without a lawyer. When an agreement is struck you can move forward with it by filing with the Self Help counter at your local courthouse (fees tend to range between $30-$60). Part of this process involves a gut check to see if it changes the ratio of time shared dramatically, (ex. changing from a 60/40 to a 50/50 share) in which case you’ll need to run your financials to recalculate child support payments. This can be done at the Self Help center at your local courthouse or by a lawyer or law firm.

Pro TIP; request a paralegal to recalculate your child support which will be much less than having a lawyer to do it. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

As an important side note, if you are a coParenter app User, you can ‘GetHelp’ to connect with a live coParenter Pro to draft changes to your existing child custody schedule. Once you both agree to the changes you will have access in your agreements section.


State by State – How to Change a Child Support Order | U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Related Articles: