When a custody agreement is initially created, it caters to the needs of the parents and children at the time it is created. The custody agreement is drafted, and agreed upon, and all parties involved are expected to adhere to the terms of the agreement. While this may work for a short while, oftentimes circumstances change, and the initially agreed upon terms may not continue to be the best option for everyone. When this happens, its time to reconsider the agreement. You can petition the court for a modification of the currently standing custody agreement.
Sometimes, custody agreements can be handled through interactions outside of the courtroom. A new agreement can be drafted, both parties can agree to these terms, then submit the changes to the court. It is highly recommended, however, to retain the services of an attorney even if the court will not be involved. An attorney will be able to protect you and your child's best interests. If a custody agreement cannot be reached without the aid of a judge, you will have to go to court to settle the modification.
Applying For A Custody Modification
Custody is normally handled at the county level. Typically, parties interested in modifying custody must file with the county court that they currently reside in. Each county has its own distinct method of exactly how a custody modification must take place; however, some general elements of a custody modification generally remain the same. Across all counties, for a custody modification to take place, one of the parents (or custodial parties) must file a written request for a change, with the reasoning behind it. Many times the courts demand what is called a "substantial change in circumstances" in order for a custody modification to become permanent. There are a number of examples of these circumstances, but a few common ones include:
Typically, one custodial parent is not allowed to relocate further away from the other, especially when the relocation takes them and their child very far away. If the relocation is absolutely necessary, then an agreement must be worked out and approved by the court, with sufficient evidence to back up each respective party's claims to the child. At this stage, legal representation can be crucial to your success.
Change In Lifestyle
A change in lifestyle is a broad phrase that can be used to describe several things. Most importantly, however, it basically describes some sort of change to the way a parent is able to take care of a child, in a way that directly affects the child. Changes in lifestyle can include innocuous things such as a parent pursing an education or changing their hours at work, which would interfere with the time they can spend with the child. They can also include more serious things such as criminal offenses or a substance abuse problem. These are very complicated matters, and can make custody modification a complex process.
If you or a loved one is currently engaged in matters of Family Law, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.