Family court can involve some of the most emotionally challenging cases that might arise between family members and members of the same households. The court recognizes the profoundly personal nature of most family law matters. The family court system of Oklahoma City, OK, also recognizes the fact that many family court orders are configured around life circumstances that might change unexpectedly for reasons beyond any of the involved parties’ control. Therefore, the modification process allows individuals to easily adjust the terms of their family court orders in response to unforeseen life events.

If you have a family court order, you may wonder whether you can abide by the terms of the order for the foreseeable future or if it can change under certain circumstances. Family court orders are more flexible than most people might expect, and it could be possible for you to modify your family court order if your life circumstances have recently changed due to forces beyond your control. Therefore, it’s essential to understand how the modification process works and the most commonly cited reasons behind Oklahoma City residents’ petitions for modifications in the family court system.

Domestic Violence

Rates of domestic violence increased across the country in the past few years due to lockdowns, financial tensions within families, and many other causes. For example, suppose you have a family court order that includes child custody provisions, child support obligations, alimony, or visitation. In that case, you may need to seek changes to these terms if your ex-spouse commits any form of domestic violence against you or your children.

The modification process will likely be just one aspect of the appropriate response to domestic violence with a family court order. For example, if you and your ex-spouse share custody of your children, and your ex harms you or your child in any way, you should contact the police and obtain a temporary restraining order immediately. It’s sometimes possible to secure these temporary orders the same day one is requested. You can take the next step once you are safe and request the court to make the restraining order permanent. Depending on the nature and severity of your ex-spouse’s actions, they are likely to face contempt of court, may lose their custody rights, and will likely face criminal prosecution under Oklahoma’s domestic violence laws.

Child Custody Disputes

When you divorce your spouse and have children, or if you are unmarried and you and your co-parent do not want to continue your relationship and live together any longer, you will need a child custody order from the Oklahoma City, OK, family court that includes explicit provisions regarding your parental rights and responsibilities. However, a child custody determination is based on the factors in play when the order is created, and these factors can change in many ways without warning. Therefore, if something changes in your life that makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for you to abide by the current terms of your child custody order, you can file a petition for modification in light of this change.

It’s possible to petition for modification if you seek expanded or reduced custody rights, and it’s possible to petition for sole custody if your ex-spouse has proven to be a danger to your children. For example, suppose you have a child custody agreement and later discover your co-parent has a severe substance abuse disorder. In that case, you could petition the court for sole custody and compel them into treatment. Likewise, your spouse could later file a petition for modification to regain some of their parental rights once they prove they have completed rehabilitation and are no longer dangerous to their children.

Child Support Modification

When you are required to pay child support under the terms of a family court order, it is crucial to make your payments on time and in full. Your child support order will clearly explain your payment obligations, and recipients can review their child support orders so they know what to expect when receiving child support from their child’s other parent. However, your circumstances can change unexpectedly in ways that influence your ability to meet your child support obligation. For example, if you receive child support, it’s possible to experience life changes or discover issues with your child that increase your need for child support.

Parents can file petitions to modify child support orders whenever anything happens that changes their need for child support or their ability to pay child support. You must submit a petition that outlines your requested change and provides the evidence you need to prove the change is reasonable and necessary.

Termination of Alimony

When divorcing couples have alimony agreements, these agreements typically include clear terms for the circumstances that would terminate the recipient’s eligibility to receive further payment. When a divorced spouse receiving alimony completes any terminating action, they are generally required to notify the court of their change in circumstances. For example, alimony may end when the recipient starts living with a new partner and must submit their address change to the court. However, if the recipient of alimony attempts to obfuscate a terminating action or does not complete the required notifications, or if the paying party discovers that the recipient no longer qualifies for alimony, they can submit a petition to terminate the alimony agreement.

It’s also possible to petition for modification of alimony similar to child support. For example, if you pay alimony and lose your job, develop a critical medical condition, or anything else happens that influences your ability to pay alimony, you can petition the court to change your alimony terms to reflect this change.

There are many reasons you may need to petition the Oklahoma City family court to modify a family court order. While this process is relatively straightforward in most cases, it is always best to have reliable legal counsel as you begin the modification process. An experienced Oklahoma City, OK, family law attorney can help you approach modification proceedings with confidence, assist you in drafting your petition, and help you gather any supporting evidence you may need to submit with your petition.