Everyone who walks in my office wants something — more time with their children, more support, to pay less support, or simply for the other party to follow the orders as written. What they don't realize is the backlash that may come from the opposing party after filing a motion to accomplish these things. The other party wants things too, but when potential clients come in they often are only thinking of their own goals and not what the other party may want out of any litigation.
For instance, if you have joint custody of a child and you want more parenting time (and accordingly, to pay less in child support), you should consider the backlash effect before filing a modification. Meaning, once the opposing party is served with your motion to modify, they may contest custody in response or retaliation. Custody can be the ultimate trump card in Oregon because the Court here has no ability to order joint custody unless both parties agree. If they don’t agree on joint, then the Court must choose one parent to have sole custody. Therefore, angry opposing parties may decide that if the other wants more parenting time or to pay less support, the best way to combat this or to punish that parent is to put custody at issue. This possibility is something to seriously consider if you have joint custody and want to change other child-related matters.
There are a lot of instances of the other party counterclaiming for things that were initially not contemplated custody is just one of them. The other party’s sheer emotional reaction when being served is another that most people seem to overlook. Emotions run high and once a modification is received, co-parenting can become quite hostile. My intention is not to dissuade anyone from modifying a judgment, but the point of this blog is to raise legitimate and practical factors you should consider when seeking a modification. Discuss the potential direction of your case with an attorney and ask about the potential for any kind of retaliatory counterclaims and how they may affect the case. We encourage you to call us if you are experiencing this situation currently or if you are contemplating a modification.