A Modification Action can be brought in chancery court to modify a prior court order or decree. As a general rule, the party returns to the same court which originally issued the prior order as that court is deemed to have continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.
The most common modification actions are on child support, education and visitation matters. You can agree to the modification with your former spouse, and have a joint petition for modification filed and then submit an agreed order to the court. These happen most often concerning visitation or changes in custody due to special circumstances of the parents.
Modification actions can also be brought by one party filing a petition for modification with the court. For instance, if you are paying child support and lost your job or obtained a lower paying job, then you can petition the court for a downward deviation of the child support you have to pay each month. Conversely, if you receive child support payments each month on behalf of your child and your former spouse is making more income than when the court first granted the child support award, then you can bring a modification action for an increased amount of child support on behalf of the child.
The obtain a modification, you have to show a material or substantial change in circumstance of one of the parties.
In deciding whether to award a modification, a chancellor will consider the following: increased needs of children, increase in expenses, inflation, earning capacity of the parties, health and special needs of the child, health and special needs of the parents, necessary living expenses of the father and mother, and estimated income taxes each party must pay.
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