When the judge orders child custody in the final divorce decree, the arrangement is not set in stone. Life circumstances may change, which may make it difficult to uphold the custody arrangement originally set in the divorce settlement. Either parent can file a petition for child custody modification when such a situation arises. Keep in mind that the judge presiding over the case will only make changes in the child’s best interests.
What are some factors that qualify a case for custody modification? One common reason is that the child is living in a dangerous environment. Whether there is immediate danger to the child or domestic violence in the home, the judge will evaluate the case and determine whether the environment is suitable for the child. Furthermore, if one parent does not adhere to the child visitation schedule, it may warrant a change of custody.
Other factors that may lead to a change in child custody modification include the following:
- Death of a parent
- Incarceration of a parent
- A parent’s employment makes it difficult for him or her to maintain visitation
If one parent moves a considerable distance from the other, it may be hard to keep the visitation schedule as well. The judge may look at which parent decided to move, as well as whether the parents have discussed a visitation modification. If the move would affect a child’s school schedule or sporting activities, the judge may consider this as well. It may be more practical to rewrite the schedule so that parents are not traveling far distances excessively.
In some cases, parents can work out their own modification to a child custody arrangement without taking the case to court. While this may be the best option, some parents may be unable to come to an agreement on their own.