Child custody orders are not set in stone. They are made based on what was considered to be in the best interests of the child at the time of creation. If a family’s situation changes, parents have the option to file a petition to modify the custody order. However, many parents become confused about what is enough to constitute a change of circumstances that will lead to a successful change in a child custody order.
If you are currently dissatisfied with your child custody arrangement, take time to understand how the law works in Virginia. The following are some of the most common reasons for a successful custody modification.
When the child is at risk of abuse or neglect
When a child is believed to be abused or neglected by a parent, this must be addressed with the utmost urgency. If you have genuine concerns about your child’s well-being while they are in the care of the other parent, take action immediately by contacting the police and filing an emergency motion to modify custody. These motions are prioritized by the child custody courts.
When a parent’s stability is brought into question
Children thrive when they have stable parents on whom they can rely to have their needs met. If a parent shows signs of being emotionally unstable or is unable to provide a safe environment for their child, it may be possible for the other parent to modify custody by bringing some of their behaviors to light.
When a child’s needs change
As children grow, their emotional, physical and academic needs change and evolve. Young children require a consistent routine and must have close bonds with their parents. However, older children may benefit more by spending the majority of time at the home of one parent so that they can focus on their studies or extra-curricular activities. If you believe that a change in the custody agreement would benefit your child academically or emotionally, consider pursuing this.
Make sure that you take early action if you want to modify a child custody arrangement because the entire process can take a significant amount of time.