Can Child Custody Be Modified?

While it may seem like child custody orders are set in stone, this is never the case. Your child custody order can be modified at nearly any time, however, there are certain circumstances that must be present to warrant such changes. Furthermore, the standard courts employ to determine a child custody modification are different than the standards used to decide upon an initial custody ruling. This means your approach to a modification will be different than your approach to the original custody case.

In some cases, parents may agree to a modification on their own terms, drafting up a new custody or visitation plan and presenting it to the judge for signature and final approval. In these situations, a judge will simply make sure that the new agreement honors the best interests of the child. On the other hand, in cases were parents do not agree on a suggested modification, the parent seeking the change will need to file a motion requesting alterations to the current custody plan. At the center of whether or not a judge will approve the modifications is the reason for the request. A parent must have a valid and compelling reason for the changes to be approved.

What is considered a valid reason for custody modification?

When the court is reviewing a custody modification request, they will first and foremost make sure that the request is in the child’s best interests. The judge’s goal is to put the child in a stable and healthy environment. If the parent’s reason for modification honors these main ideas, the court will likely approve.

There are many reasons that the court may deem valid for custody modifications, including:

  • One parent is moving to a new area
  • A change in lifestyle threatens or benefits the child
  • The custodial parent is denying the visitation or custody rights of the other
  • The child requests to spend more time with the other parent
  • The custodial parent has committed a crime or exhibits dangerous behaviors
  • Either parent remarries or engages in a new relationship

Whether you are seeking to further restrict a noncustodial parent’s visitation and custody rights or want to increase the amount of time you get to spend with your child, it is important that you craft a solid and compelling case to ensure your side of the story is heard. Just because it is a modification does not make it any less important than the original custody ruling.

Have you considered requesting a child custody modification? Make sure you have representation throughout the entire process! Call our St. Louis family law attorney for counsel today.

Categories: Child Custody