What Is A Child Custody Modification, And When Should You Ask For One?


Child custody attorneys often have to ask the court to make changes to the arrangements governing where a kid lives and how parents interact with them. The tool of choice for this job is modification. If you're dealing with an existing and legally recognized child custody situation, you may need a modification to address one of a wide range of concerns. You should know what a modification is and when to seek one.

A Court Order

When child custody lawyers ask the court for a modification, they are seeking an order. This is a legally binding instruction from the judge to the parties involved with a matter. In this instance, the matter would be the custody of a child.

Orders can be temporary or permanent. A temporary order addresses an immediate problem, but it allows the court to come back to the issue for a more permanent answer. If there are credible allegations of child abuse, for example, a temporary order might take custody away from a parent until the court can review what's going on.

A permanent order sets up the longer arrangement. Notably, permanent orders don't continue forever, but they do represent the judge's determination of what should happen until some bigger event intervenes.

Reasons for Modifications

Many modifications are driven by what are fundamentally administrative issues. If one parent wants to move and both parents agree, there still needs to be a modification to address the situation. The amount of time the child spends with the parent who doesn't have primary physical custody might shift toward longer and fewer periods to account for travel time, for example.

Emergencies are also causes for modifications. If the custodial parent is injured, develops a long-term illness, or dies, the other parent might seek a modification to take on primary physical custody. Neglect or abuse allegations also count as emergencies deserving of a modification hearing.

Is a Modification Necessary?

Courts generally give parents some leeway to operate around the edges of a child custody agreement. This presumes everyone is complying with the agreement in spirit and both parents are comfortable with the decisions. If one parent wants an extra day over the holidays and the other is fine with that, they don't usually need a modification to make that happen.

A modification is necessary when the existing agreement becomes untenable. If a parent is regularly not taking a kid on all of their days, for example, the other parent has a right to ask for a modification because the pattern is disruptive.

Reach out to a local child custody lawyer to learn more.


18 May 2021

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