As a child grows, and families change, existing custody orders may need to be modified. If you have a friendly relationship with your ex, you might have no trouble agreeing on a new parenting plan. When both parents agree, they can simply explain the changes to the court, and then get the court's approval. When one parent doesn't agree, however, resolving custody disputes becomes more complicated. If that's the case, you may need family law counsel to help you get the parenting time you and your child need.
Key Factors in Resolving Custody Disputes
There are many good reasons why you might need to change a custody agreement. Your lawyer can help you by filing a motion to modify the child custody arrangement. To convince the court that a change is necessary, you'll have to show that there has been a significant “change in circumstances” since the initial custody order was issued. Specifically, you'll have to show that this change means that the old order no longer serves the best interest of the child, and that a new arrangement is needed. Examples of why a custody order should be modified might include:
- Your ex remarried, or there has been a significant familial change in that household. It's important for children to grow up in a stable environment, and spending lots of time with a new step-parent could create problems for your child.
- A dramatic change in one parent's income level. It's vital that all the child's needs be met, and if the primary caretaker can no longer do so adequately, the other parent may seek custody.
- The custodial parent is denying you the visitation rights outlined in the existing order. Once the custody order is issued, both parents must abide by it. If that doesn't occur, the court may change the child custody order, granting the other parent custody.
- The child's preference. This is especially true as the child gets older. The court listens to the children, and will give weight to a child's desire to spend more time with one parent or the other. If your child is at least 12 or 13 and wants to live with you rather than his or her other parent, a modification of the existing order can be pursued.
How a Lawyer Can Help
You will need to provide concrete proof to support any change to an existing custody order. Evidence can come from witnesses, police reports, the testimony of a child counselor, or others. Top quality legal representation could not be more important in child custody cases. There are often conflicting stories from each parent, but a qualified child custody attorney can present a clear, persuasive picture of who you are as a parent. Your attorney will also ensure that all the required paperwork is correctly filed.
To schedule a consultation to review your case, contact us at Access Lawyers Group.