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When can you move to modify a child custody arrangement?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | Child Custody

When an initial custody determination is made, you might feel comfortable with the amount of time that you and your children’s other parent get to spend with your kids. But life changes, and what was once an appropriate child custody arrangement may no longer be in your children’s best interests. What are you to do in these situations?

Modifying custody in Arizona

If you think that it’d be best for your children to modify custody, then you’ll need to file a motion with the court making that request unless you and your children’s other parent can simply agree to modification. In this motion, you’ll need to specify the reason for seeking modification, which may be one or more of a number of factors. Some of the most common reasons for seeking custody modification include:

  • Substance abuse: Exposure to parental substance abuse can be incredibly detrimental to children. It can leave them with overwhelming stress and anxiety, increase the risk that they’ll be subjected to abuse and neglect, and lead to behavioral and school problems.
  • Untreated mental health issues: An untreated mental health condition can lead to erratic and even dangerous behavior. This can put your children’s safety and well-being at risk, especially if your children’s other parent has indicated that he or she will not seek out appropriate treatment and medication.
  • Increased needs: Your children’s needs might increase over time. If that happens, then you’ll need to assess the other parent’s ability to meet those needs. If he or she can’t meet them, then modification might be warranted.
  • Changed financial circumstances: A change in the other parent’s financial resources may also make it difficult for him or her to properly care for the children. This might justify a modification request, especially if the children’s basic needs are going unmet due to financial hardship.
  • The children’s wishes: Although your children’s thoughts on a custody arrangement won’t always be given a lot of weight, the older that they are the more likely the court will be to take those requests into consideration.

There may be other circumstances that warranted a modification request, so make sure that you’re diligently analyzing the circumstances and thinking  about what sort of arrangement best supports your children’s best interests. After all, that’s what the court is going to base its determination on.

Building your case for modification

As you navigate your request, you’ll need to keep in mind that the court isn’t just going to take your word for whatever allegations you’ve made. Instead, the judge is going to expect you to present some evidence that supports your arguments and your request.

Therefore, depending on the justification for your request, you may want to turn to police reports, medical and educational records, witness accounts, therapy reports, and financial statements. Be as thorough as you can here. It’s better to have too much information than too little.

A legal professional may be able to help

Crafting your legal arguments can be more challenging than you think. After all, the other parent is probably going to aggressively push back against your request. That’s why you might find it beneficial to have a skilled legal advocate on your side. By having an attorney work your case, you can better ensure that you’re making the best arguments possible to support your children’s best interests. Hopefully then you can achieve the outcome you want and that best protects your children and your relationship with them.