Modifications of Custody and/or Support
Modifications of Custody and/or Support in Maryland
Can a custody decision be modified?
Yes, in Maryland custody is never permanent and can always be modified by the court if circumstances change and a modification is determined to be in the best interest of the children.
How does a court determine whether there should be a modification?
First the court must determine whether there has been a material change in circumstances. A “material change” must affect the welfare of the children. The party seeking the modification must allege a change and circumstance and has the burden of proving there has been such a change. If no material change, then no modification. If the court finds there has been a material change, then the best interests of the children must be consider as if the case were an original custody proceeding.
What if the original custody determination was done by agreement of the parties?
A court can modify the provisions of an agreement as it relates to custody of the children if there has been a material change in circumstances and it is in the best interests of the children for a modification to occur. The court will not be bound by the parties’ original agreement if the terms are no longer in the children’s best interest.
Does a parent’s desire to relocate justify a modification of custody?
It depends. Relocation of a parent meets the requirement of a material change in circumstance, however the Court must then determine what custodial arrangement is in the best interest of the children. Changes brought about by the relocation of a parent may be sufficient to justify a change in child custody. Click here for a more detailed summary of Child Relocation. (GWH when Child relocation is posted to the website we can add the link).
Can a Child Support decision be modified?
Yes, If a parent can show a material change in circumstances, such as a material increase or decrease in income, and/or a change in work related child care or additional expenses, then a request for a modification of child support may be granted by the Court.
Will the court modify a Court Order from the date the change occurred?
No, the Court only has the ability to modify a child support order from the date the request for a modification was filed.
If both parties agree to a change in child support, is a Court Order necessary?
Unless the agreement to modify child support is in writing, the Court does not have to honor a verbal agreement. Thus, if there is an agreement to modify a child support order, there should be a written agreement at a minimum, and preferably the parties should request a Court Order.
See Child Support for more information regarding how child support is calculated.