Child custody disputes are often hard-fought, and for good reasons. Parents usually want to spend as much time with their children as possible, and they might be worried about their kids’ overall safety, health, and well-being when they are in the other parent’s care.
Yet, a lot of these cases result in a child custody arrangement that works for everyone involved. Immediately after the issuance of the order, you, your children, and your children’s other parent might feel like you’re able to work within the confines of that order.
However, life changes and so does your children’s needs. That’s why you need to constantly reassess your child custody arrangement to determine if seeking a modification is appropriate to protect your children’s best interests.
When should you seek modification?
It really depends on the facts of your case. However, there are some events that should force you to start taking immediate action. Here are some of them:
- Substance abuse: Whether it’s due to drugs or alcohol, addiction can pose a significant threat to your children. In fact, studies have shown that children who are exposed to parental substance abuse suffer increased rates of anxiety and fear, and these children often start to exhibit behavioral problems and poor school performance. Your child may also be at an increased risk of being abused or neglected while in their other parent’s care if that other parent is under the influence.
- Untreated mental health issues: A lot of people struggle with their mental health. That doesn’t make them bad parents. But when a parent who has a mental health diagnosis fails to adequately treat their condition to the point that it affects their ability to appropriately care for a child, the issue is problematic.
- Changed financial situation: A parent who has physical custody of a child needs to have the financial resources to adequately support that child. If that parent’s financial standing changes, such as by losing a job or being diagnosed with a medical condition that is expensive to treat, they may simply be unable to care for the child. This change in circumstances may warrant a custody modification.
- Poor co-parenting: The hope is that you and your children’s other parent will be able to effectively communicate and otherwise co-parent in light of the existing child custody order. But if your children’s other parent is frequently withholding visitation or other forms of contact with your children, you might be able to argue that such parental interference is no longer in your children’s best interests, thereby justifying a motion to modify custody.
- Your children’s wishes change: If your children are older, their wishes for the custody arrangement are given more consideration. While their feelings alone may not be enough to convince a court to modify custody, they can help support your position when seeking a change. However, if your children’s feelings are based on some sort of emotional or psychological harm, the way they feel may be persuasive when you seek modification.
Know how to build strong arguments to support your modification request
These are just some of the ways that you may be justified in seeking a child custody modification. But regardless of the reason why you seek such modification, you’re going to have to present evidence to support your position. That may be easier said than done, but an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law can help you assess your situation and build the compelling legal strategy that you need to best fight for your children’s best interests.