How to Modify a Custody Order

How to Modify a Custody Order

Once the court has made a decision and filed an order for custody or visitation, it requires specific action to make a change to the order. There are a number of valid reasons why the court ordered parenting plan would require a change. Often times, when children grow older their interests, activities and needs evolve. Sometimes, one parent, or both, will move on and begin living a more separated life with a new partner. They may have jobs in a new location, live in a residence farther away or other actions that require a change in the custody order.

Sometimes a change in custody or visitation is necessary when one parent is struggling with alcohol or drugs and leaving an unattended child at home. Other scenarios for a modification to the custody order might include the incapacitation or incarceration of a parent that leaves them in a position where they can no longer care for their child. At times when one parent does not fulfill their court-ordered responsibilities, the ex-partner may be able to modify a custody order to the benefit and interest of the child.

Mitigating Circumstances

In most states, the law specifies that any modification to a custody order must involve two specific factors. They include:

  • The court must recognize a considerable change in circumstances in the life of the child and/or custodial parent. It must be a strong enough reason that fully warrants a change of the original custody order.
  • The modification in the custody order must serve the best interest of the child.

Possible Justifiable Circumstances

Determining a substantial change in the custodial parent or child’s circumstance can sometimes be challenging. To obtain a permanent change or modification to a custody order necessitates that the problem or change cannot be a temporary issue or problem that was voluntarily created by the parent. Many courts will consider modifying a custody order under specific conditions that might include:

  • A change in the mental or physical health of the custodial parent
  • The inability or difficulty to carry out the specifics of the parenting plan or custody order
  • A change in the financial structure of each parent
  • The relationship of one parent to the other
  • The level of committed involvement in the child’s life by each parent
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child
  • The quality of life each parent can provide the child
  • Any deliberate action by one or both parents used as a tool to prevent the other parent visitation time with his or her child

Based on the court and the judge, not every above action or scenario might be enough to justify a modification or change to the original court order. Sometimes, a combination of two or more conditions will provide sufficient evidence to the judge and the court to grant a modification or change to the order.

The process of obtaining a change or modification to an original court order can be challenging at best, and usually one that requires the skills of a competent attorney in Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland. With the proper plan of attack, in developing strong evidence for a hearing, a skilled attorney can help the court to evaluate the best interest of the child to increase the potential of a successful outcome.