About the only thing you can be sure of in life is that it is always subject to change. The law also recognizes this fact, at least when it comes to child custody agreements.
You may wish to modify the terms of a child custody agreement for any number of reasons. Maybe you’ve started a new job with an entirely different schedule than your old job. Maybe you’re looking for a change and are thinking about moving out-of-state. Whatever your reason may be for seeking a child custody modification, there are two paths you can take to make a change.
A consent order
This is the easiest and most straightforward method for modifying a custody agreement. In this situation, you and the other parent must agree to the new terms of your child custody plan. When you enter into a consent order, you agree to the proposed changes and provide your understanding that those changes are enforceable.
Seeking a change through the court
Reaching an understanding with the other parent may be impossible. You will need to seek court approval if negotiations are a non-starter. When deciding whether to modify a custody order, the court takes a two-part approach.
First, the court will determine whether you’ve experienced a substantial change in circumstances that require a change to your custody agreement. Using the above examples, a new job that upends your schedule or plans to move away would probably be considered a substantial change in circumstances.
The second part of the court’s determination is a bit more complicated. The court must decide whether your proposed change is in the best interests of your child. The court may look at several factors to help make its determination.
Custody modifications may require other changes
When you modify your custody agreement, you may have to change other aspects of your divorce decree. For example, if the change means that you’ll be taking on a larger role in your child’s care, you may need to seek an increase in child support. A skilled legal professional can help you explore your options and guide you through this process one step at a time.