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Defining Substantial and Material Change of Circumstances for Modifying Child Custody and Child Support Orders

The laws governing child custody in Idaho is similar to the laws in other states as there is a general agreement in terms of child custody. For example, almost every law in the country is based on the assumption that the best interests of the children should always be the primary consideration when determining aspects of a divorce such as custody and support.

However, the law also recognizes that circumstances rarely remain static, and that a child custody order that made sense at the time of the divorce may cease to be beneficial years later. As a result, questions arise as to whether or not child custody orders should be modified. If such a question arises in your case, you should look at consulting with a qualified family law attorney. While an attorney is not required, their advice will be invaluable in deciding whether or not you can and should seek to modify a custody order.

Substantial and Material Change

The term ‘substantial and material change of circumstances’ is a legal phrase that is variously and loosely defined. The court must recognize a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both parents in order to justify changing custody and child support orders. For example, some common facts that often meet the substantial material change circumstances in Bonneville County, Idaho include:

  • Significant change in income for either parent (for child support changes.
  • Health problems for either parent or the child
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Co-habitation with person(s) who pose a risk to the children.
  • Inadequate care of children the other parent
  • A need to relocate to a new geographical area

Other Reasons

Judges have some discretion in accepting the definition of substantial material change. Even the mere passage of time can sometimes be a basis for reviewing court orders because a child has more ability to feel secure going between homes and/or desires to spend more time with a particular parent.

David A. Johnson has been providing quality legal services in East Idaho. As both a private attorney and as a former Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Johnson has substantial courtroom experience. Mr. Johnson has handled cases all over the State of Idaho. His primary areas of practice are in Bonneville, Bingham, Butte, Jefferson, Madison, Fremont Bannock and Jefferson Counties. In addition, to Idaho Falls, we serve residences in the Blackfoot, Shelley, Firth, Rigby, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton, Ammon, Driggs and Victor, Idaho. [Read more..]