Can I modify my custody agreement if father is no longer stable

Modifying a child custody agreement

Recently on our forum a user asked if they could have their child custody arrangement modified if the father is no longer able to provide a stable, safe or healthy environment for the child.

Child custody agreements can be modified through a post judgment modification order. Although state laws may vary; generally the court will expect the parent filing the modification to prove the other parent has violated the court order, circumstances for one or both of the parents has changed, or there is another change in circumstance in relation to the child.

If your son's father was initially awarded shared legal or physical custody of your son, but the home environment is no longer stable or healthy, you can file a motion to have the child custody order modified. Consider, however, the court will expect you to have evidence to support your case that the order should be modified.

Custody change if parents do not agree

If you are attempting to get a child custody agreement modified but the father contests the changes, it can be difficult. Courts do not like to move children, and it will be up to you to prove that the change is not only in the best interest of your child but there has also been a substantial change which necessitates the change. Factors which are considered under a modification order include:

  • The age and sex of the child.
  • The wishes of the child's parent or parents.
  • The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parents, siblings and other people who affect the child's best interests.
  • The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community.
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  • Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
  • Evidence that the child has been cared for by someone other than a parent for at least six months to a year, depending on the child's age.
  • The child's present or future well-being
  • The character, personality, or conduct of the parents or other custodians*Considerations may differ by state and by court.

Example of court order changes

Considering the examples listed above, it's not unusual for a custodial agreement to be modified as a child ages and they decide they want to live with the other parent. Modifications are also made sometimes if the custodial parent remarries and the new spouse is abusive or the home environment is changed in such a way the court determines it is no longer healthy for the child.

So, to answer your question, the child custody order can be modified, but without proof that there have been substantial changes that are harming the welfare of the child it can be difficult. Talk to a family law attorney for more information about your options and what you will need to prove for your case.

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