What Parents Should Know About Modifying Custody Orders

What Parents Should Know About Modifying Custody Orders

Divorced parents or parents who have always lived separately from one another need to be able to communicate well to co-parent effectively, but it is certainly understandable that they will not always agree on everything. If they cannot reach an agreement about child care or custody, they may seek a judicial remedy. 

Legal Modification of Custody Orders

Matters related to custody can become a subject of serious contention. During divorce hearings, custody may be one of the most difficult issues to resolve. After reaching a common understanding or getting a judicial ruling, revisiting the issue can become even more contentious.

However, making changes to a custody or parenting time arrangement may be essential to promoting children’s best interests. If parents cannot agree to a modification themselves, one parent may petition a court to modify an order by presenting evidence that the change is necessary.

Changes in Circumstances Which May Merit Modification

When a court enters an order pertaining to child custody, its ruling is based on the circumstances at the time. If one or both parties change living situations or their ability to care for their children changes over time, a court will hear a request for modification. In general, a change in circumstances must be material.

For example, one parent may be unable to spend as much time with his or her children after a job change. Alternatively, a move could make caring for children difficult because of the size of a home or where it is located in relation to the children’s school or their support network.

Concerns About the Care That a Parent is Providing

As a drop protective order lawyer, like one from Law Group of Iowa can explain, parents who feel that their children are not receiving adequate care in their current custody arrangement will likely want to take immediate action to remedy the situation. In order to get a modification on this basis, a parent will need to produce substantive evidence that a child’s other parent is not providing proper care. A parent may cite issues such as unaddressed medical or mental health care needs.

Problems in school could also indicate that a child is not doing well in the current custody arrangement. Likewise, concerns about parental fitness may be a basis to request a modification. A problem with substance use, for example, may raise fears about children’s safety.

Courts make determinations about modifying a custody order by evaluating what would serve children’s best interests. Every family’s situation is different, and the way that a court will rule will depend on the parties’ unique circumstances. 

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