Child Custody in DIvroce

Important Things to Know About Modifying a Child Custody Arrangement

When you and your co-parent agree on a custody arrangement or the court puts it in place for you, it’s often a huge relief. The uncertainty is gone, you know how much parenting time you get, and you can begin to make future plans. However, it’s important to remember that custody agreements are rarely permanent. As your child grows, their needs may change. Additionally, your and your co-parent’s obligations and schedules may change over time. A child custody modification can accommodate these changes and allow you to maintain a meaningful amount of time with your children.

Wondering if it’s time to look into a child custody modification? Let’s talk about your options and next steps. Call Nowell Law Firm at 864-469-2481 to set up a consultation with our team now.

Grounds for Modifying a Child Custody Agreement

If you and your co-parent agree on the need for a custody modification, this process is very straightforward. You can simply have your lawyer draft up the modification with your agreed-upon terms, have both parties sign it, and bring it to the court. When co-parents agree on a custody modification, the court is unlikely to deny it unless it is very clearly not in the child’s best interests.

The court may agree to change custody if the child is struggling in their current environment in a way that the custodial parent cannot help them with. The person requesting custody may need to demonstrate that the child’s problems are directly related to their current environment or relationship with the custodial parent, that they have attempted to help the child and co-parent resolve these problems to the best of their ability, and that they are willing to be the custodial parent to address these issues.

The child’s preferences may also be grounds for a custody modification. As the child gets older and becomes a teenager, they will be better able to understand their needs and where they are happier. However, this isn’t all that the court will look at when making its decision. In some cases, children prefer to live with the parent with the fewest rules and boundaries—and in those cases, living with the preferred parent is often not the best route.

What if your custody agreement has informally changed but your official agreement remains the same? This is definitely a situation where you’d want to get the court involved. Imagine, for example, your co-parent is the primary custodial parent on paper. However, the child has been living with you for three months and has settled into their routine. During this time, you’ve still been paying child support even though you have the child. 

Taking this agreement to court protects you and may allow you to stop paying child support. It protects you by making your current situation legal—otherwise, you risk the custodial parent swooping back in whenever they want and taking the child back, possibly disrupting their routine and wellbeing.

Documentation of Your Need for a Modification

Documentation is key if you want a modification but your coparent does not. The court will want to see that the modification you’re requesting is in the child’s best interests. You may want to show proof of communication with your co-parent to address the current issues, as well as any steps you have taken on your end to help your child.

It’s also important to show how the child is struggling under the current agreement and how they may benefit from the change you are proposing. Imagine that your child has Cs and Ds in all of their classes because they have missed 30% of the school days in the current school year, due to your co-parent oversleeping, not forcing the child to go to school, or otherwise not supporting their education. 

By showing that you have addressed the issues with the co-parent, attempted to find solutions that will keep the child in school more, and had no success, you may be able to ask the court for physical custody if you are more capable of getting the child to school and supporting them in their education.

Learn More About Your Custody Modification Options with Nowell Law Firm

Custody modifications can be tricky, but with the team at Nowell Law Firm, you can feel confident about your next steps. Call us at 864-707-1785 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with our Spartanburg custody attorneys.

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