Can I Change a Utah Family Court Order?

Yes. Utah courts can modify family court orders if there has been a “substantial and material change in circumstance” and, if the case involves your children, if the requested change is in their best interest. Family Courts recognize that an order that seems fair when it is entered may become problematic later on because of changes that life throws at you.

For custody and parent-time purposes, a substantial and material change in circumstance may include things such as the custodial parent relocating, abusing drugs and alcohol, engaging in a serious crime, exposing the child to abuse or neglect (physical, emotional, medical, etc.), the child not thriving in school, severe interference with the noncustodial parent’s parent-time, a significant change in work or school schedules, entering into a custody / parent-time schedule different than what is contemplated in your decree, etc. Generally the standard for modifying “parent time” is lowering than the standard for modifying “custody.” Also, generally the court gives more weight to a custody order resulting from a prior trial than it does a custody order resulting from a prior agreement or a default judgment.

For child support and alimony purposes, a substantial and material change in circumstance may include things such as a significant change (up or down) in either party’s income, a job loss, remarriage, a disability, retirement, etc. Under these circumstances the court may modify child support and alimony to be a more fair amount.

The Court can also change other types of orders based upon a showing of changed circumstances. For example, if your divorce decree states you are supposed to refinance your home mortgage but you cannot find a bank willing to do so then you would have the right to ask the court to enter new orders to address this challenge.

The process for changing a court order generally involves filing a “petition to modify” (note: there is is an alternative process for parents wanting to move out of state). This document tells the court what existing court order you want to change, what changes in circumstance have occurred, and what you want the new order to state. Often the Court will require you to attend mediation first before filing a petition to modify in an effort to resolve the issues you want to address with the court. However the Court may waive mediation in the event of an emergency.

Do you have questions about modifying your court order? Give us a call at 855-254-2600 for answers.

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