Child custody arrangements are not definite. Significant changes in either the child’s or a parent’s life may happen over time, necessitating changes in visitation schedules or custody to best suit the child’s needs. One of the parents may bring up this change before the court and ask for a modification as long as it meets the court’s requirements.
A substantial change in circumstances
A parent may request the court for a custody modification even when there is already a divorce order. The filing parent must prove a substantial change in circumstances and that this change adversely affects the child or does not serve the child’s best interest. The change could be any of the following:
- Immediate danger. If a parent believes the child is at risk, they may file for custody modification. The court will then check for the existence or possibility of domestic violence, which can put the child in immediate danger. It may also check if the child is unwilling to stay at home.
- Change in residence. If a parent relocates, this may necessitate a change in custody since this change could potentially disrupt the child’s life. When modifying the schedule, the court will look into the reason for moving and how it will affect the custody schedule.
- Violation of custody order. The court will investigate when one parent allegedly does not follow the custody schedule. If it finds that there is indeed a violation, it may impose penalties and consider this as a reason for the modification.
- Death of the custodial parent. Unless the child has a different preference or the other parent’s work schedule prevents it, the death of a custodial parent typically results in the child’s placement with the other parent.
These are just some of the common changes that may merit custody modification. However, the court strictly requires the changes to be substantial to discourage frequent modifications.
The child’s best interest is the top priority
Whatever the parents believe may be best for their child, the courts continue to put the child’s best interest as the top determining factor when altering the custody details.