Frequently, circumstances change after divorce. Maybe your ex got a new job that forces them to move out of state. Perhaps they have a new partner that you don't feel comfortable leaving your child around, or you have reason to believe your ex is neglecting or abusing your child.
Whatever the case, you may want to file for a child custody order modification. A custody modification allows you to establish a new custody arrangement that reflects your current circumstances more accurately.
Understanding the Custody Modification Process
To get your child custody arrangement legally modified within the first two years of the arrangement, you must meet two conditions:
- you must prove to the court that the current custody order may harm your child, or
- your child is no longer living with your ex if your ex has residential custody.
In certain situations, both parents might agree that the current custody arrangement is infeasible. For example, maybe your ex gets a new job that requires them to move out of state but realizes that they can't feasibly comply with the current custody arrangement if they take the new position. If you and your ex agree on modifying the order, you can sign a modification agreement with the help of an attorney and file it with your local court. The court may ask to see evidence supporting the custody agreement, but you should be able to modify the order without needing a hearing.
However, if you and your ex disagree, you will need to file for a custody order modification with your local court and attend a hearing with your ex. During the hearing, the court will look at various pieces of evidence, such as:
- How your child behaves with each parent;
- How the child does in school while living at each residence;
- Whether any evidence exists that would indicate one parent is unfit to hold custody;
- How changing the custody arrangement would impact the child's life; and
- If the child has a preference for either parent(assuming they're old/mature enough to form an opinion without parental influence).
If the court decides your order modification has merit, they may adjust your custody arrangement to reflect your proposed modification.
If you are concerned about your ex's parenting habits, you can also ask the court to complete a custody evaluation to help deduce your ex's fitness as a parent.
Attorney Louis P. Winner has a wealth of experience helping parents pursue their rights in court. To receive a consultation from our firm, contact us online or give us a call at (502) 812-1889.