Your existing child custody agreement might have made sense at the time it was ordered, but as life changes, a modification of that order could be warranted. How do you know? Under state law, in order to successfully modify a custody arrangement, you have to prove a material change in circumstances and the modification is in the child’s best interests.
What Constitutes a Material Change in Circumstances?
Any number of scenarios might justify a modification, and every case is unique. That said, here are some of the most common ways to show that there’s been a material change in circumstances:
Parental substance abuse: Your child’s exposure to this can lead to an increased risk of abuse or neglect, and they can develop anxiety, depression and an overwhelming sense of guilt.
Exposure to domestic violence: Household violence can put your child in harm’s way, and it can leave them fearful and guilty over their inability to protect the victim.
Income changes: If the custodial parent suddenly loses a job or otherwise becomes financially unstable, they might be left unable to adequately care for the child.
Declining health: Poor health can limit parenting capabilities, which may warrant a modification to ensure that your child’s needs are met.
Unwillingness to co-parent: In a co-parenting relationship, you and your child’s other parent are supposed to support your child and the time that they spend with the other parent. If the other parent speaks poorly about you and withholds visitation or contact, though, the court might be persuaded to modify custody to limit that parent’s access to the child.
Do You Want to Learn More About Child Custody Modification?
If so, now is the time to continue your research so that you know what the modification process entails and how you can effectively navigate it given the facts at hand. Hopefully, you can then secure an outcome that protects your child’s best interests.