While it certainly holds tremendous value, custody orders are not set in stone. The courts can alter custody terms, including changing the primary custodian. However, modifications are not easily applied. There are certain conditions the situation has to meet before the court can allow changes.
Is there a material change in circumstances?
All families go through changes in their lives. Slight changes in circumstances do not automatically warrant custody modification. The changes must be substantial enough. But what qualifies as substantial change? While case-by-case, if the change adversely affects the child or a reasonable person would expect it to impact a child’s well-being negatively, then it counts as substantial change. Some examples of material change are parent relocation, child abuse, a parent’s remarriage and a change in the child’s needs.
Is the modification in the child’s best interests?
If maintaining the original custody order will be detrimental to the child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being, the situation will force the courts to modify the terms of the order. This stems from the child’s best interest principle. Whenever a case involves a child, the court will evaluate the case with the child’s best interest as the priority.
Is the other parent fit to hold custody?
Even if the two prerequisites for modification are present, it does not automatically mean the other parent will gain custody. Evidence must show that the other parent is physically, mentally and financially capable of holding primary custody. Otherwise, the court may assign another person as custodian. This can be the child’s grandparent, aunt, uncle or relative capable of caring for the child.
Custody is an emotional subject to discuss. And when you are going through a series of emotions, you might find yourself confused with the procedure. Processes, such as custody modification, can be overwhelming. Pooling resources and reaching out for legal support can greatly help you.