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When can you request a child custody modification?

Child custody modifications are a lot more common than you might think. However, while it is possible to change a custody and visitation order, this process can be complex.

A parent can request a modification to a final child custody order if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” There are two tracks: the other parent may agree to the change or it might be necessary to bring the issue to court. We will discuss both in this post.

Agreeing to a change

If both parents agree on the changes, the process is less complex. Parents will fill out an agreement and submit it to the court.

When the court is involved

If parents do not agree on a modification to the order, the parent requesting the change must demonstrate to the court that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the prior order such that a modification is in the child’s best interests.

Several factors can elicit a change in circumstances. These can include:

  • Death or change in the health of a parent
  • Changes in a child’s needs or preferences
  • Domestic abuse or criminal charges

While the parent making the request will need to file the request with the court, the parents will likely be required to meet with a mediator prior to a court hearing. It can be beneficial to try to resolve the issue in mediation rather than court. Mediation is more likely to result in a mutually agreed upon decision.

If you are considering a modification, it can be beneficial to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Finding out the available options is the first step toward reaching an arrangement that is right for you.

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