Child custody decisions aren’t written in stone. Courts recognize that situations can change for parents and their children and that these changes may necessitate a modification of custody. But not every change will require modifying the custody order. Whether you’re the parent requesting a custody modification, or the one opposed to it, you deserve to know what standard the court will use to decide it. The family law attorneys of SederLaw represent parents on both sides of custody modification requests. We are prepared to advocate for you and your child today.
Why Would You Need a Child Custody Modification?
Life doesn’t stand still after the court enters a child custody order. For both parents and the child, there can be changes. Sometimes these changes justify a parent gaining more custodial rights or parenting time than he or she was originally awarded by the court, and sometimes less. However, just because there has been some change in the lives of the parents or children does not mean a court will modify its prior order. As a general rule, courts want consistency and permanency. That means they only want to see parents back in court if the changes are truly important enough.
More specifically, to modify a prior custody order, a parent must prove the following two elements:
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the last order was entered by the court
- Modification is in the best interests of the child
What kinds of changes might be considered “material and substantial”? These are a few possible examples:
- A parent has become neglectful, abusive, or otherwise unfit
- A parent has lost his or her job and can no longer financially provide for the child
- A parent desires to relocate due to a job or other changed circumstances
- A parent has started dating someone who poses a danger to the child
- Poor living conditions
- The child has developed a medical condition that one parent is better positioned to handle
- The child is performing poorly in school and one parent is better positioned to remedy it
- The child requests a change in custody (which the court will consider but not be obligated to grant)
- The existing custody order no longer fits the needs or circumstances of the child or parents
- Repeated violations of the existing custody order
Factors that Impact a Modification
These and other situations may be enough for the judge to alter custody. However, the modification has to meet the second requirement. : It must be in the best interests of the child. A number of factors affect this determination, such as:
- The child’s age
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The child’s academic performance, extracurricular activities, and social ties
- The parents’ ability to communicate with one another
- The respective parents’ abilities to care for the child
- The respective parents’ abilities to provide a stable environment for the child
- Any special needs the child may have
Every child modification matter is different, and the facts that may justify a change in one case might not justify it in another. Also, every judge views modification differently and is vested with considerable authority to make a determination.
There are cases in which the parents agree to the modification, but formal court action is still necessary. Even where the parents agree to change custody, they need to follow the existing order until the court issues a new one.
Contact Our Worcester Family Law Attorney Today
You may be the parent who wants a modification or the one who wants to keep things as they are. Either way, you need skilled legal counsel representing your rights in court. Turn to the family law team at SederLaw. You can schedule your confidential consultation with us today.
hild custody decisions aren’t written in stone. Courts recognize that situations can change for parents and their children and that these changes may necessitate a modification of custody. But not every change will require modifying the custody order. Whether you’re the parent requesting a custody modification, or the one opposed to it, you deserve to know what standard the court will use to decide it. The family law attorneys of SederLaw work with parents on both sides of custody modification requests, and we’re prepared to advocate for you and your child today.