How Do You Modify a Child Custody Order?
A lot of the times the parents come into my office when they have had an order in place for a number of months, possibly years, and things are just not going as well as they should have or according to the original order. They want to know what to do to change their custody order. What I tell my clients or my prospective clients is this: There are two ways to change a custody order.
- The first one is through agreement, which is what we always strive to do in this office. We try really hard to get the parents to come to agreements because it’s easier, and it’s better for the family involved.
- If that does not come to fruition and for some reason the parents cannot agree, then the next step is of course filing a motion with the court and having the court intervene in the decision-making.
Modifying a Court Order
Courts don’t like changing custody orders. They do not want an order that they have previously put in place to be changed because they feel that that order was in the best interest of the child to begin with. Changing custody’s a very difficult thing to do because not only does a court not like to change the orders, but there’s a really high standard that you have to meet, and that standard is called a substantial change in circumstance. The court is always going to look at the child’s best interest before coming to any decisions about changing any existing orders. When you want to change custody for whatever reason, you must meet the substantial change in circumstances standard. That’s the first thing you need to do. And you meet the standard by proving to the judge that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that is affecting the child’s well-being. How do you do this? You must have clearly defined reasons for requesting your change, and you must have documentation that supports the reasons for that change.
Examples of a substantial change in circumstances could be any one of the following or accumulation of all of these.
- One of the parents has gotten married or is involved in a new relationship, and that new spouse or that new significant other is somehow abusing the child.
- One parent has become addicted to some sort of a substance
- One of the parents has had a medical situation that doesn’t allow them to be able to take care of the child the way that the child needs to be taken care of.
- The relationship between the child and the parent has deteriorated drastically
- One of the parents has needs to relocate out of the state because of a new job position.
There are many, or like I said, it could be one, or it could be accumulation of all. These are just examples of what a change in circumstance could be. Just remember, the courts don’t like changing custody orders that are previously put in place. They do not like changing them, and so it’s important that you be prepared with your reasons for the request in change and that you have the proof necessary to show the judge why they should consider and ultimately change the existing custody order.
If you are thinking about modifying your child custody order, contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation further. You can reach our office at firstname.lastname@example.org, (702) 998-1188, or schedule a consultation online.