Parents who have just gone through the process of determining child custody arrangements may not want to think about having to one day modify their legal decision-making and parenting time agreements. However, the day for modification may come sooner than they think. Whether it is relocating the family to another state for a new job or the need to get the child out of a dangerous living situation, there are many reasons why a parent may need to seek a change in custody.
Can I modify my custody agreements?
In most cases, if at least one year has passed since the original order was issued and there are continuing and substantial changes in circumstances that impact the child’s best interests, it is likely that the child custody modification will be approved by the court.
However, a modification may also be granted at any time if the court finds that the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health is in danger in their current environment or if there is evidence of domestic violence or abuse in a joint custody situation.
Finally, the court may modify a joint legal decision-making order if six months have passed and neither parent has adhered to the order.
Filing a petition to modify custody
If you and your child’s other parent disagree on the modifications, you will need to file a petition for modification of legal decision making and/or parenting time. If you have an existing child custody order, you will need to include a copy of it when you are filing your petition, along with a filing fee. The petition must also include details as to what substantial and continuing changes warrant the modification of custody. An emergency petition can be filed if the child is at risk of harm. A hearing will then be set to determine whether to grant your petition. A family law attorney specializing in these matters can help you throughout the process of modification.