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Modify Child Custody


During divorce, child custody may be decided by an agreement between the parents or a divorce court order. When changes need to be made to a child custody parenting agreement or court order, one or both parents may seek an order to modify child custody.

If the parents can reach an agreement on modifying child custody, the agreement may be filed in court along with the petition to modify.  If the petition is granted and the agreement approved, it becomes a court order. If only one parent seeks to modify child custody, the parent must file a petition to modify with reasons why the modification is necessary.

A parent must usually file a separate motion to modify child support to make changes to support obligations.

Reasons to Modify Child Custody

Parents seeking to modify child custody generally must show the divorce court there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original custody order. The parent seeking custody must also demonstrate that he or she can provide an environment that better meets child's needs and interests.

A special standard may be applied for custody modifications sought within one to two years after the original order. The parent seeking to modify child custody has to show a substantial change in circumstances and the current custody arrangements endanger the child.

Examples of a Substantial Change in Circumstances

  • One parent moves farther away
  • Dangerous situation in the custodial parent's home
  • Custodial parent's lifestyle change threatens the child's well-being
  • Child's preference to live with the other parent, without coaching or bribing

Speak With a Divorce Lawyer about Child Custody Modification

With the help of a divorce lawyer, find out whether you may be able to modify your current child custody arrangement. A divorce attorney can further explain the modification process and help you work toward a child custody arrangement that protects the relationship between you and your child.

Find a local divorce lawyer by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form to set up a preliminary consultation. If your child custody case doesn't involve divorce, Total Divorce can still help you find a local attorney who is familiar with family law to answer your questions.

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The above synopsis of child custody laws is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to serve as legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these child custody laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.