When the court issues a child custody order, the expectation of the court is that the order will stay in place and is usually not open to debate. This is why it is not very easy to get a custody order modified. In order to prohibit frivolous motions of custody modifications, family courts typically only allow modifications under special circumstances.
If you think you have grounds to have your custody or visitation order changed, a child custody attorney can evaluate your case and discuss what your legal options may be. In the meantime, the following is a brief overview of custody modification rules.
Filing a Motion to Modify
Every state has its own rules regarding how often and under what grounds a modification request can be made. Generally, courts realize that most custody orders will likely need some type of modification every two to three years, especially as children grow older. It is not uncommon, especially when children are young, for one parent to be awarded primary physical custody and then to later change that to a joint physical custody situation, especially as the child enters their teens.
If a parent is seeking a change in custody and it has been less than the two to three years allowed by the court, then there must be a change in circumstances which would warrant the court’s consideration to change the standing custody order.
Examples of what the court would consider a change in circumstances include:
- One or both parents have moved far enough away from each other that the visitation scheduled set forth in the original order is impossible to keep.
- The custodial parent is living with an individual who has some type of issues that will negatively impact the child, such as a criminal record or alcohol or drug addiction.
- The custodial parent is not complying with the court-ordered custody or visitation schedule. This action often involves a contempt of court action, as well.
- The child is doing poorly in school.
- The child is older than they were when the original order was put in place.
- The child has stated they want to live with the non-custodial parent. Most states require the child be of a certain age before they will accept this as a valid reason.
- One of the parents has an alcohol or drug problem.
- One of the parents has been charged with domestic or other type of abuse.
- There has been a substantial change in the health of one of the parents.
Going to Court
Some parents believe that if they can agree on a modification, they will not have to go to court to have the custodial order changed. This is not true. Although you can still file the parenting plan that you both agree on as the requested modification, it is not legal unless it is entered into by the judge overseeing your case. For both parents’ protection, make sure any changes you agree on are filed and approved of legally, if you need assistance or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact a child custody lawyer Collin County TX locals trust from Scroggins Legal, to assist you during this process.