When couples reach a child custody agreement or when a court issues a child custody order, it isn’t always the case that the arrangement ends up working out. Fortunately, child custody arrangements do not have to be permanent, and it is possible to have them modified when the circumstances are appropriate. As with all child custody determinations, the key consideration for a court is the best interests of the child.
A variety of factors are considered when determining whether it is in the best interest of a child to have the parents’ custody agreement or order modified. One of the key inquiries is whether circumstances surrounding the care of the child or children have significantly changed for the worse.
This could include anything from physical or verbal abuse to the child expressing a preference for the noncustodial parent. In the latter case, the child’s age would certainly have to be considered, as well as whether the noncustodial parent has attempted to alienate his or her former spouse from the child’s affections.
Needless to say, child custody modification proceedings are often rather adversarial in nature – particularly when there are accusations of irresponsibility, immorality or child endangerment. Such accusations, of course, cannot be baseless. They must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. In addition, the non-custodial parent will also need to be investigated to ensure any change in custody is truly for the benefit of the child.
While it is certainly possible to pursue a custody modification on your own, doing so with the support of an experienced family law attorney can help to ensure your parental rights are protected. This approach increases your chances of a favorable outcome.