What Lifestyle Changes Can Trigger Child Custody Modification?
The Montgomery County family court judge always writes a child custody order with the children’s best interests as the priority. In some scenarios, modifying the child custody order may be necessary, but how and when this is done depends on many potential factors. This article highlights the lifestyle changes that might trigger a child custody modification. If you have questions about a custody modification, our knowledgeable Montgomery County child custody attorneys at Shah & Kishore can assist you.
When The Court May Modify The Child Custody Order
Family court judges prefer stability for children in the home, so a child custody modification is not made lightly. However, the court may consider modifying the order if the following facts are accurate:
- There was a substantial change in circumstances affecting the children’s welfare.
- The child custody modification is in the children’s best interests.
Some of the lifestyle changes that may lead to a child custody modification are:
The Parent Will Not Follow The Custody Agreement
When you and your ex-spouse went to divorce court, the outcome was a child custody order through an agreement with the other party or the judge’s order. Both parties are required by law to follow this child custody order.
But now, months or years later, your ex is not honoring the agreement. Maybe they refuse to bring the children back to your home on time. Or, they do not tell you where they are taking the children on vacation.
If you believe the other parent is not honoring the custody agreement, you can file a case to modify the custody order. You will need to notify the other party and show evidence to the judge that proves substantial violations of the child custody agreement. Another option is to ask the court to hold your ex in contempt of court.
Considerable evidence must be presented in court to prove the other parent is not following the custody order. Thus, working closely with an experienced Montgomery County child support attorney is advantageous to achieve the desired outcome.
The Other Parent Relocated
The noncustodial parent can request a modified custody agreement if the other parent moves. Moving is not automatically considered a significant change in circumstances, so there is no guarantee that the modification petition will succeed.
But the family court should consider your ex-spouse moving as part of the decision. In most cases, the court will consider relocation a reason to change the custody order in one of these circumstances:
- The move would burden the other parent significantly and make it harder for the custody schedule to continue as outlined. The court assumes that maintaining a relationship with both parents is in the children’s best interests. So, if the children are having difficulty seeing the noncustodial parent because of the move, this could be a reason to change the custody order.
- The move would have a significant positive or negative impact on the child in another way. For instance, the move takes the child far away from his friends, sports teams, and other family.
Remember that when the original custody order is drafted, you can ask for limits on the other parent’s ability to move away with the child. You could, for example, request that the order state that the other parent cannot move the child out of Maryland.
A Parent’s Circumstances Have Changed
Montgomery County courts realize parents’ circumstances can evolve, so custody orders are never written in stone. However, if you wish to ask for a child custody modification because of a parent’s change in circumstances, you must prove there has been a substantial change. This means the change will affect the children’s life and overall well-being.
An unfavorable change can trigger a child custody modification, but so can a positive one. For instance, if you had a drug or alcohol problem but can show that you have been clean for three years and have a regular job, you might ask for a modification to allow you more parenting time.
The Child’s Circumstances Or Needs Have Changed
What works for child custody when the child is three might differ when they are eight. A child could require a different environment to do well in various life stages, making one parent’s home a better environment than the other. If you can show the family court that the child’s needs changed, you could trigger a child custody modification.
Also, if your child has developed a mental health disorder and one parent has more time to care for the child, this could be a potential reason for a change. The parent desiring the modification will need to file the modification motion and show the changes are substantial and affect the child’s well-being.
The Child Is Endangered
The child’s best interests are always the court’s priority, so endangerment is a vital reason a judge could change the custody order. If a parent engages in hazardous behavior toward the child, the court could change the order. Some behaviors that could lead to a child custody modification are:
- Emotional, physical, sexual, or mental abuse, including verbal abuse
- Putting the child in a situation where others could abuse them
- Substance abuse that puts the child in danger or is a negative influence
- Serious mental health issues, such as psychotic episodes or hospitalization
Changing a child custody order takes time, so if you think your child is endangered, you should call the police. Then, your Shah & Kishore attorney can work with you to file a motion to alter the custody agreement.
Contact Our Montgomery County Child Custody Attorneys
With a child custody dispute, there is so much uncertainty about your family’s future. It can also be upsetting when you believe there needs to be a child custody agreement modification, but your ex will not listen to you.
Our attorneys at Shah & Kishore understand how important this issue is to you and will fight for the best outcome in your child custody modification case. We will review the reasons you want the modification and gauge the potential for a successful outcome. Contact our Montgomery County child custody attorneys now at (301) 315-0001.