What Factors Need to Be Considered to Change a Custody Agreement?
When parents go through divorce or separation, establishing a custody agreement is a crucial element of the process. This legal arrangement outlines both physical custody and legal custody. Custody agreements are typically designed to provide stability and continuity for children over the long term. However, there are instances where adjustments to these agreements become necessary. Here are essential factors that must be carefully considered when contemplating changes to a custody arrangement.
The Child’s Best Interests
Did you know that the child’s best interest is the key factor when considering making any changes to the custody agreement? Courts put the child’s best interests above everything else, carefully considering how any proposed changes might impact their physical, emotional, and developmental welfare. Therefore, as you contemplate adjustments to the custody arrangement, always remember that the child’s welfare should be the driving force behind your decisions.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
Courts place a significant emphasis on maintaining stability and consistency in a child’s life. Therefore, they generally require a substantial change in circumstances before considering any modifications to a custody agreement. This requirement safeguards against frequent and unnecessary alterations that could disrupt a child’s routine and emotional well-being.
Now, what exactly qualifies as a “substantial change” can vary depending on the unique circumstances of each case. However, there are some common factors to consider:
- Relocation: If one parent is planning to move a significant distance away, it may necessitate changes to the custody arrangement to accommodate the new geographical situation.
- Changes in a parent’s lifestyle: If there has been a substantial shift in a parent’s lifestyle, such as substance abuse, criminal activities, or new relationships that may impact the child negatively, the court may consider this a substantial change.
- Health and safety concerns: If a child’s health or safety is at risk under the current custody arrangement, this would be deemed a significant change in circumstances warranting modification.
When considering changes to a custody agreement, the court also evaluates the parenting capacity of each parent. They are interested in whether both folks can create a stable, loving, and safe home for the child. Of course, they want to ensure both parents are in good mental and physical shape to meet the child’s needs. Money matters, too, so the court checks to see if both parents can provide for the basics. Equally crucial is the ability of parents to cooperate and communicate effectively in co-parenting, as courts favor arrangements that promote a positive and cooperative co-parenting environment. Demonstrating a strong parenting capacity is crucial when seeking a custody modification, as the court aims to safeguard the child’s best interests within a supportive and secure environment.
The Child’s Preferences
As children grow older and can articulate their preferences, the court may consider their wishes when evaluating custody changes. This consideration becomes more significant as children become teenagers. The court values a child’s input as it aims to prioritize their well-being. However, the child’s preferences must align with their best interests. If a child expresses a clear and reasonable preference that supports their physical, emotional, and developmental needs, the court may modify the custody agreement accordingly.
Inability to Co-Parent
When parents find themselves unable to cooperate in parenting their child following a divorce, it can lead to court intervention to modify an existing custody arrangement. An example of this situation is when parents with shared legal custody continually end up in court disputes over every joint decision concerning their child.
In such cases, the court may determine that the current arrangement is unsustainable and not in the child’s best interests. Therefore, they may step in to make necessary modifications to the custody agreement to ensure a more stable and cooperative co-parenting environment that prioritizes the child’s well-being.
Change in Parent’s Work Schedule
Significant changes in a parent’s work schedule can also be crucial in considering modifications to a custody agreement. When a parent’s work hours or responsibilities undergo significant shifts, it can directly affect their capacity to provide care for the child. For example, if a parent previously had a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule but now faces irregular or extended hours that make it challenging to maintain the current custody arrangement, the court may revisit the agreement.
We are Here to Help
It is clear that matters to do with child custody are complex and very personal. Without the required legal expertise in family law, it can be challenging to get the desired results. Our child custody attorneys at the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb understand this issue in detail and are ready to guide you through it. All you have to do is contact us and schedule a free consultation with our experts.