Although a child custody dispute that’s negotiated or litigated might seem appropriate at the time that it’s implemented, life changes can render it no longer fitting for your child’s best interests. If that’s the case, you might find yourself worried about your child’s safety and well-being. As scary as that can be, you can be proactive in taking legal action to try to protect your child. This is most often accomplished by pursuing a custody modification.
When is a modification warranted?
Under state law, a modification may be granted if it’s demonstrated that there’s been a material change under circumstances that are ongoing in nature. This opens the door to a number of situations that may justify a modification, including each of the following:
- Exposure to parental substance abuse: If your child is exposed to drug or alcohol abuse while in their other parent’s care, your child may end up suffering physical, emotional and psychological harm. Children are at an increased risk of being abused or neglected, and they can develop behavioral and schooling issues.
- Exposure to domestic violence: When a child is exposed to violence, they can be at a greater risk of being physically injured. This is especially true when they try to intervene in episodes of domestic violence. But even witnessing or merely hearing domestic violence can have a profound impact on your child’s emotional and psychological well-being.
- Change in financial circumstances: It can be costly to raise a child. When the custodial parent faces financial hardship, your child’s best interests can be put at risk. Their basic needs may go unmet, and other important aspects of their life might go unfulfilled.
- Onset of a medical condition: Changes in a parent’s health can also justify a custody modification. While this is certainly true when a parent suffers extensive physical injuries or develops a severe illness, mental health conditions can also come into play.
- Parental relocation: When a custodial parent tries to move away with the child, the court is going to have to determine if that relocation is in the child’s best interests. A lot of factors can be taken into account here, including the opportunities that the move will provide to the child and the custodial parent, as well as how the custodial parent plans to facilitate contact with the non-custodial parent once the move is complete. If the court finds that relocation isn’t in the child’s best interest, but the custodial parent wants to move anyway, the court might be inclined to modify custody.
- Parent’s failure to abide by an existing order: If a parent refuses to adhere to the existing custody order, the court is probably going to consider modifying that order in a way that better protects the other parent’s rights. This may include restricting parenting time or even shifting physical custody to the other parent.
- Parental alienation: Far too often, one parent manipulates the child in order to disrupt the relationship between the child and the other parent. This is parental alienation. If you can demonstrate that this alienation is occurring and thereby negatively impacting your relationship with your kid, modification will be warranted.
Don’t leave your custody dispute to chance
How you approach your custody case can have a tremendous impact on your child’s well-being as well as your relationship with them. With that in mind, it’s crucial that you develop a strong legal strategy going into your case so that you can clearly articulate your arguments. Hopefully then you can protect your child and put this dispute behind you.