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Depending on the kids’ age when you first made a custody agreement, it may be necessary to modify your order over time. Circumstances change, and the same agreement that suited you and your co-parent when the kids were young may not work for your family well if you get remarried, move, or change career fields.
Modify Custody Agreement
There are many reasons to modify a custody agreement. These modification reasons center on a significant change in circumstances that may include:
One or both parents are choosing to move
If one parent ignores or goes against the current agreement
Concerns of neglect or abuse (this can be a case of emergency custody)
One parent’s work schedule or career field has changed
The needs of the children have changed due to health, age, or activities
Change in living conditions or the ability for one parent to provide care for the child
Death of a parent
The ability to change a custody order is dependent on the regulations in the state itself, the judge, and the situation at hand. As each family is different, a judge will consider the big picture to determine what is in the child's best interest.
A custody agreement modification is not the same as changing a child support order, which falls under a different set of circumstances. There are valid reasons for child support adjustments that can occur, and parents can take the steps necessary to re-calculate the amount owed.
One important element to consider is how recent the original custody agreement is. Some jurisdictions place restrictions on when parents can modify the agreement. This waiting period varies between states, so contact your court to see if you can begin the process or if it is too soon.
How to Get Started
If both you and your co-parent agree on a need to modify the custody agreement, you can discuss your goals and start to build a better plan. If this is the case, mediation or arbitration can also help to guide you towards a solution. Mediation can be less expensive, and a mediator can help you and your co-parent determine a plan to submit to a judge.
To begin changing your custody order with a co-parent who disagrees with the changes, you will need to file a motion with the court. To file this, you will need to determine exactly what you want the new custody agreement to be. Many courts will require that parents submit specific plans before appearing before going to court.
Once the other parent has been notified and you have set a court date, you will both appear before a judge so that they can determine a plan that is in the best interest of the child.
Evidence to Support Custody Modification
The evidence you need will be contingent on the reasons upon which you are requesting a custody modification. There are many forms of evidence that you can bring to family court, as discussed in our other blog here. Some examples include:
A detailed journal or report that demonstrates consistent issues with the custody schedule
Police or court records regarding enforcement of orders
Evidence of a parent or child’s new schedule
Using a co-parenting communication service like TalkingParents is a great way to stay organized and accountable, even if you have no plans to return to court in the future. Co-parents can order their TalkingParents Record at any time and share it with their attorneys or bring it to court. Learn more about how a co-parenting tool can help you.
TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.