In some situations, a child custody or visitation order becomes either impractical or improper. Under certain circumstances that meet specific rules and requirements, you may be able to modify the terms and conditions of the order.
Remember, there are two primary types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody means the right to make important decisions for the child, while physical custody refers to the time the parent spends with the child. In most cases, courts award joint legal custody, although physical custody is often giving to one parent (custodial) while the other parent (noncustodial) is entitled to visitation.
When a child visitation order is established, both parents must adhere to its terms. Yet, as time passes, child custody and visitation orders may either become burdensome or unsuitable. For instance, a parent may wish to relocate out of state for a new career opportunity or the needs and wishes of the child may change. Under these circumstances, a modification order may be granted.
Custody and visitation orders may be modified if one of the following is met:
- Both parents reach an agreement to modify the current order
- The court approved one’s parent petition to modify
In order to modify a custody or visitation order, you need to file a petition to modify with the court. In order to successfully modify an order, you must have evidence of a significant change in circumstances.
Common examples of significant changes in a parent’s life include:
- A career change or relocation
- Changes to the child’s emotional and developmental needs
- One parent constantly violates the custody order
- Evidence of child abuse or domestic violence
- Concerns over the safety or stability of one parent’s home
- An older child wishes to spend more or less time with a parent
Keep in mind, the court will also include the best interest of the child when making their decision to grant modification. It is important to have an experienced lawyer determine whether or not you can successfully seek modification.