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Motions to Modify Custody, Visitation and Child Support

If you have an existing custody, visitation or child support order you should know that these orders are always modifiable. You can’t agree with the other parent to never change an existing custody, visitation or child support order.

Second, in order to change an existing order you must prove to the court that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. You must also show that the change you are seeking would be in the best interests of your child.

I have heard clients say “I will have you in court every year if I don’t like the outcome that I receive in court.” This position simply isn’t realistic or possible given the constraints of the law. It isn’t realistic because in order to obtain a change in the custody schedule you must prove to the judge that something has occurred which really justifies a change. Judges are constrained by the law with respect to considering minor complaints about parenting. This means they cannot change the custody schedule because of one parent’s complaint about the food they eat at the other parent’s home, the involvement in activities/lack of involvement in activities while with the other parent, one parent being late for pickups, sunburns, too much iPad time, etc. Complaints must be more serious in nature before a judge can consider any changes with respect to the custody and visitation schedule.

Common reasons for changing a child’s custody schedule include one parent moving a substantial distance, a parent voluntarily relinquishing custody, a parent remarrying a convicted felon with serious assault charges, a parent who fails to maintain stability with respect to jobs/employment/housing, or a parent who now has a drug and/or alcohol problem that didn’t exist at the time of the initial custody order.

Oftentimes client seek a change in the custody schedule due to the parent’s perception that abuse or neglect is occurring at the other parent’s home. Sometimes a parent will seek a change in custody due to his/her opinion about how the other child is treated at the other parent’s home. This is probably the most difficult area with respect to these types of cases because absent a showing of real and present harm to the child a judge is unlikely to interfere with how a parent chooses to raise the child during his/her custody time. Abuse allegations must be proven and there must be evidence to support that abuse is occurring before a judge can change the custody schedule.

For more information talk to an attorney who specializes in only family law at Columbia Family Law Group LLC.