When individuals think about family law matters, divorce cases are the first types of family law cases that often come to mind. It is true that divorce filings are probably the most common type of family law case.
Next to divorce filings, paternity cases are on the rise as well in the United States. With statistics showing that four out of ten children born out-of-wedlock, many unmarried parents end up in court litigating paternity, custody and support related issues.
After divorce and paternity actions, many wonder what are other common types of family law cases? The reality is the modifications (or motions to modify) are very common types of family law matters. Modification litigation can certainly encompass lots of cases on family law dockets throughout the country.
Modifications are generally off-shoot cases from prior divorce and paternity actions. They take place when one party later comes back to court alleging that there are changes of circumstances of a substantial and continuing basis that warrants a modification.
A motion to modify can address issues from child custody (also known as parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities in some states), to child support and spousal support. However, a motion to modify cannot address martial property and debt in a divorce that has already been divided via a divorce decree. This is generally viewed as final and non-modifiable.
While it is the goal of the family court to address these kinds of issues in a way such that they do not come back to court later, the reality is that many parties experience changes that end in them coming back to the court. For some parties, they might end up back in court on a modification once or twice.
In other instances, however, parties can end up back in court on modifications fairly frequently. This is particularly true in high conflict cases where parties are constantly in conflict. It is unfortunate when this takes place and is needed. But the reality is that many parties end up back in court frequently litigating modifications.
When parties think about family law cases, parties should not forget about modifications, When many parties are unhappy with the results of their divorce or paternity case, these are common types of family law matters.
If parties are wishing to avoid modifications, options they ought to consider are collaborative divorce and mediation. Most statistics out there show that when parties are able to reach a settlement outside of court in which they are happy, they end up back in court less on modifications than when the court makes the decision for them.