Child custody is an important part of any divorce when children are involved. Circumstances vary and depend greatly on many determining factors such as a history of abuse or addiction, means to provide, and whatever is in the best interest of the child(ren). Once a judge has made a ruling on the custody agreement between two parties, is it set in stone? Things can be changed through a child custody modification. What is it and when can it be used?
What Is A Child Custody Modification?
A modification is when, due to certain circumstances, a custody agreement is altered to accommodate the new needs and lifestyle changes of the parents and child(ren). If the two parties can agree on the changes there is a good chance of them being approved, but sometimes parents can’t come to an agreement. In this case, a modification to the custody and visitation order will have to go through the court. There are many reasons a modification may be necessary.
Reasons For Custody Modifications
Many things can constitute a change in a custody or visitation agreement. For it to be approved by the court, there has to be evidence that the current agreement is not working for both parties any longer in some way or another. What qualifies as a reason for a modification?
- Addiction & Substance Abuse
If one parent is displaying evidence of addiction to alcohol or other dangerous substances, this can be grounds for modification. These problems can make a parent unfit to care for or supervise a child. While not impossible, it is unlikely that the addicted party will agree to changes in the custody agreement. In this case, any parent who recognizes this behavior in their co-parent must file with a judge for a modification in the current agreement.
- Domestic Violence & Child Abuse
If there are signs that your child is in immediate danger and is not safe in their home, you can request a modification. You may want to speak with a child custody modification lawyer on how to expedite this process for the protection of your child.
- Parental Relocations
If a parent is relocating due to new job opportunities or a new marriage, or some other reason, this can affect the visitation schedule. Both parents should work together to come up with a practical solution where both parties get to spend time with their child(ren). The courts will take into consideration how this will affect the child’s everyday life such as school, activities, relationships, and upbringing.
- Violations Of The Current Agreement
If your ex is violating the terms of your current agreement such as not adhering to the visitation schedule or not communicating openly about the care of your child, or keeping your child from you despite the rights granted to you in the agreement, you are eligible for a child custody modification. You can contact a lawyer to learn how to modify custody if you are unsure of your next steps.
How To Change A Custody Order
Changing a custody order is a simple process as long as the courts approve. If you and the other parent are in agreement about what modifications you want to take place, you can jointly submit the proposed agreement to the court for approval. If you and the other parent are not in agreement, one parent will need to file for a proposed modification with the court. It must be approved to be legally binding, otherwise, no parent is required to follow it. It is recommended to get an experienced child custody attorney to help with this process, especially if your ex is in disagreement with your proposed change.
Our attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri can explain how to modify custody and what your options are. At the end of the day, the courts care most about what is in the best interest of the child(ren). If you live in the Bay Area, set up a free virtual 30-minute consultation here. Learn more about child custody modifications here.