child custody

Child Custody Modifications: How to Know When You Need One

Child custody can be a complex issue for parents who are separating or divorcing. While you may receive an initial custody order that establishes the custody arrangement, it's important to remember that this isn't always set in stone.

As circumstances change, the court has the ability to modify the order to ensure the best interests of the child are being met. Maintaining open communication with a trusted family law attorney can help ensure that your custody arrangements continue to meet the needs of your family over time.

What Does a Substantial Change in Circumstances Mean?

If you're thinking you may need to modify your child custody agreement, you may be wondering in what situations a modification could be made. A modification is made when there is a substantial change in circumstances that a modification would be in the best interest of your children.

This change can include:

  • Moving
  • Job change
  • Parental drug usage
  • Domestic violence
  • And more

By seeking the help of a family law attorney, we can assist you in determining whether you have a legal basis for a modification and guide you through the legal process. Keep reading to learn more about a few examples that would call for a child custody modification.

Signs Indicating You May Need a Child Custody Modification

1. Your Co-Parent Doesn’t Abide by the Custody Order

When co-parenting, it's essential that both parents are committed to adhering to the terms set in the custody order. Unfortunately, if your co-parent is showing a lack of commitment to the custody order, this can have severe consequences on your ability to co-parent successfully and can have a negative effect on the well-being of your children.

Examples of not following the custody terms can include:

  • Not picking up your children to spend time with them
  • Continually canceling their parenting time
  • Refusing to tell you where they take your child when they go out of town

There are many ways a parent can refuse to follow a custody order, and it can leave you scrambling to change your plans to accommodate them. If one parent has made it clear that they don't intend to follow the custody order's terms, seeking a modification might be the next best step. By doing so, you can obtain terms that more closely reflect the current division of parenting time and get back on track to successful co-parenting.

2. Your Child’s Needs Have Changed

As a child grows and develops, their needs and preferences change. What once worked well for a baby may not be the best fit for a toddler or high school student. This includes environments in which they thrive, whether it be a home with more or less structure, closer proximity to friends and activities, or a more peaceful household. In addition, if the child develops a mental, emotional, or physical disorder, and one parent may be more suited to care for the child, a child custody modification may also be put in place.

When seeking a custody modification, it's important to demonstrate that the child's needs have changed and that one home is more suitable for their current stage of development. By doing so, you may have grounds for a custody modification that better serves the child's interests.

3. Parent Circumstances Have Changed

Child custody orders are not set in stone, as courts recognize that parents’ circumstances can change over time. However, if you want to request a custody modification based on a parent's change in circumstances, it must be a significant change that will notably impact your child's life and well-being.

This change can be either negative or positive. For instance, perhaps one parent has gotten remarried. Or, in another scenario, perhaps one parent has lost their job.

4. Physical Relocation

When it comes to child custody arrangements, a move can sometimes be a valid reason to modify the agreement. Typically, this occurs in situations where the move would significantly impact the noncustodial parent's ability to maintain the current custody schedule. In such cases, the court may consider adjusting the agreement to accommodate the move and help alleviate any undue burden on the noncustodial parent.

Additionally, a move could also be viewed as a valid reason for modification if it would have a significant impact, whether positive or negative, on the child's well-being. It's important to keep in mind that each situation is unique and requires careful consideration from the court before any changes are made.

5. Child Endangerment

The child's best interests are always the most important aspect of child custody modifications. In cases of endangerment, this consideration becomes even more important. If a parent is engaging in behaviors that could put the child's safety at risk, the court may intervene and adjust custody rights accordingly. This could mean a complete removal of custody, or a significant limitation of a parent's rights.

Examples of behaviors that are considered child endangerment include:

  • Physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Serious mental health changes

While custody battles can be challenging and emotional, the court's ultimate goal is to ensure that the child is protected and in a safe environment. During this time, if your child is in immediate danger, call the police.

Work With Our Child Custody Attorneys

Dealing with child custody issues can be challenging, especially when one co-parent is struggling to adhere to the terms of the agreement. However, it's important to know that there are options available to improve your situation.

Modifying a custody agreement may be necessary as situations change, and our modification attorneys can help explain what options are available to you. With decades of combined experience, Nelson, Taylor & Associates focuses on family law and can provide you with the guidance and support you need to achieve a better outcome.

Don’t hesitate to call us at (801) 901-7046 or fill out our online form.