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When should you seek to modify a child custody arrangement?

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2022 | Child Custody & Parenting Plans

Child custody disputes are often hard fought, and for good reason. The outcome of these matters can dictate what kind of contact you have with your child, which in turn may affect your relationship with them. That’s why you need to be prepared to make strong, persuasive arguments that support your position and seek to protect your child’s best interests.

But even after the court issues an order on your custody arrangement, the issue isn’t put to rest forever. In fact, there are a number of circumstances that may warrant you taking another look at your child custody situation .

When is a custody modification justified?

There’s no one answer to this question. Keep in mind that the court is always going to be assessing what’s in your child’s best interests, so it’s going to consider everything from your child’s wishes, the parents’ physical and mental health, the parents’ financial positioning, and the parents’ willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.

But the court can also take any other facts into consideration that it thinks are relevant to its determination. This throws the door open to legal arguments for modification. So, even though the validity of a modification request will depend on the facts of your case, there are some situations that will almost certainly warrant a motion to modify. Here are some of those more compelling issues:

  • Parental substance abuse: A child’s exposure to parental substance abuse can be severely detrimental to your child. It can leave them with a greater risk of being subjected to abuse or neglect, increased fear and anxiety, behavioral issues, and poor school performance.
  • Abuse and neglect: Whether physical, emotional, or verbal, abusive behavior and neglect can cause lifelong trauma in your child. A court is going to want to protect your child from that as much as you do.
  • Changed physical or mental health: A medical condition alone isn’t enough to seek modification. But if that condition affects the other parent’s ability to safely care for your child, the issue is problematic. This is often seen when a mental health condition goes untreated.
  • Parental interference: In most cases, the court is going to find that continued contact with both parents is in the child’s best interests. But if one parent blocks the other parent from having meaningful contact with the child, the court may find that the existing custody arrangement isn’t in the child’s best interests, thereby driving it to grant a modification request to give the parent whose time was interfered with more contact with the child.
  • Relocation and opportunities: When a parent seeks to relocate with the child, the court is going to look at those best interest factors carefully before approving the move. This means that the court will likely consider what sort of custody arrangement provides your child with access to better educational opportunities, contact with family members and friends, and retains their cultural connections.

Aggressively building your case for modification

Fighting for the custody modification that you think is best for your child isn’t easy. In fact, the matter might be hotly contested. But don’t let that dissuade you from standing up for your child to advocate for the arrangement that protects your child and their best interests. Even if you’re feeling a little leery about moving forward with your case, though, we encourage you to discuss your circumstances with an experienced legal team so that you know your options and how best to pursue your case.