When is a child custody modification the right thing to do?

One of the most important aspects of a divorce is creating a well-drafted child custody agreement. The initial process of establishing what will best serve the child can be complex and time-consuming.

Because of this, when a parent later requests a custody modification, the judge will examine the request to determine if the parent is making an unjustified request or if there is a real need for a change to the agreement.

Below are five important factors the court will consider when a parent requests a modification:

Death of custodial parent--Modification is required if the custodial parent dies. The court will determine if the non-custodial parent should take over full custody, in order to keep the child's life as stable and consistent as possible. However, if the child requests to live with someone else or the non-custodial parent cannot care for the child, the court may decide on other provisions.

When a parent relocates--Before a judge modifies a custody agreement for relocation purposes, they will consider important factors such as the impact the move might have on a child's life and the motives of the parent who wants to relocate.

Abusive situations--If a child abuse or domestic violence situation exists, the court will consider a modification. This is especially true if the child states that they no longer want to visit the abusive parent.

The child's best interests change--The best interests of a child are determined in court when creating the initial custody agreement. Determining what's in the best interest of a child can be a complex process, so a judge will not consider a groundless request for modification.

Ex-partner not following custody agreement--When one of the parents is not holding up their end of the custody agreement, a judge will review the situation and determine if a modification is warranted. Their decision is based on the reasons the parent can't manage their agreed-upon visitation schedule and the quality of the parents' communications.

Before requesting a modification, the child's parents should try to communicate about their needs and make adjustments they can both agree on. Speak with a family law professional in your area for guidance about making a modification to an existing child custody agreement.

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Sheehan, Barnett, Dean, Pennington, Little & Dexter, P.S.C.
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