You and your ex have been following the terms of your child custody order since it was signed into effect by the judge handling your divorce. However, now you find yourself facing circumstances that may require you to make changes to your existing custody arrangement. If this is the case, you may apply for a child custody order modification.
What circumstances warrant a custody modification?
Courts generally will not consider modifications for trivial reasons. You will need to file a request based on a significant change in circumstances and the modification must be in the best interest of the child. Here are a few possible reasons for modification:
- Parent’s new job requires relocation.
- Parent has new work schedule.
- Parent needs to relocate outside of area where child resides.
- Parent is abusing drugs/alcohol.
- Parent is neglecting child or is no longer able to meet child’s needs.
- Child is experiencing physical or mental abuse in current arrangement.
- Parent is not following the existing order.
How can I apply for a modification?
In an ideal situation, both parents will agree to the modification and submit the new agreement to the court for the judge to sign.
If you and your child’s other parent are unable to agree, the parents seeking modification can file their request with the court, establishing that there was a significant change in life circumstances and that the child’s best interests will be served by modifying the order. The other parent will have a chance to oppose the modification and present their side of the case.
Once the judge has heard from both sides, they will decide whether to approve or deny the request for modification. If the modification is granted, the new custody order will go into effect immediately.
If you are interested in modifying your existing order, an attorney specializing in family law matters may be able to assist you.