“X” Factors That Could Lead to a Child Custody Modification
Millions of American families go through a child custody modification case every year. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, there are 12.9 million custodial parents currently residing in the United States of America. In conjunction, 21.9 million children under the age of 21 had at least one parent living outside of their household in 2017.
The need for child custody modification is widespread and extends to nearly every neighborhood in the country. Celebrities Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are even experiencing the same issues right now. Encompassed in a battle over their six children, a judge recently ruled in favor of Brad Pitt as he fought to get custody of his children. This case has been up for modification, however, as connections between the judge and Pitt in addition to protests by Jolie have beckoned a need for a review of the new child custody agreement.Yet these happenings are much more common than many realize. There are a plethora of reasons that a child custody case may need to be modified – all of which are relevant to everyday Americans. It is critical that those embarking on a child custody modification do so in a manner that is informed. The potential defenses that may help them, in addition to scenarios in which they occur, are all helpful tools when considering filing for a modification.
How a Child Custody Agreement is Altered
Under standard procedure, a child custody modification is brought about when a parent brings forth a motion to do so in a court of law. This can be done by one parent alone and is often the case when they perceive there to be a substantial threat to the best interests of a child. This is likewise a common basis used for filing such a motion. Despite the possibility of a scenario in which each parent is battling the other, they may also mutually agree on a modification.
Following this step, a court must agree to hear the motion. If a court is under the impression that there is a substantial basis for this change, they will move it forward. Following this step, there is a custody evaluation and a presentation of each parent’s individual issues and circumstances. This is a critical part of a legal case as it can have a large impact on the outcome of a child custody modification.
Two Possible Defenses of a Child Custody Modification
1. Best Interests of a Child
Generally speaking, most states highlight two separate scenarios that are most likely to lead to a successful modification of a child custody agreement. The first regards the best interests of a child. Should it be seen by a court that a child will have a better quality of life under a new custody agreement, they are likely to look favorably upon a modification. One such example of this may be if a child would benefit from moving to a new school district due to the previous closing down.
2. Inability of a Parent to Provide Care
Alternatively, a large amount of change in circumstances – usually of parents or their ability to provide a decent quality of life – may also put a previous child custody agreement at risk. This is a broad category and represents a high number of potential situations.
Scenarios That May Lead to a Child Custody Change
1. Physical Relocation of a Parent or Child
An example of a circumstantial change, a parent or child may need to relocate for whatever reason. Sometimes it is a job relocation that is unable to be refused to ensure an income stream. In other cases, a child is in need of special medical treatments only available in the next city over. All in all, a physical relocation of a parent or child can lead to an alteration in a custody agreement as it may not be otherwise possible to share time as previously happened under the old agreement.
2. Mistreatment of a Child
One example of a situation in which a child may benefit from a new custody agreement is the mistreatment of a child. If a parent or someone close to them abuses or mistreats a child emotionally, psychologically, sexually, or physically, there is a large possibility that they will not be able to maintain many rights, if any, in regards to the custody of their child.
While quite self-explanatory, mistreatment of children happens all too often and severely jeopardizes the current and future livelihood of a child. Beneath the surface may lie a series of new problems, including years of therapy/treatment, medical costs, and more. A defense of modifying a child custody agreement on the basis of child maltreatment/abuse is one of the strongest out there.
3. Financial Hardship or Difficulty
On another side of the spectrum exists financial hardship. An unfortunate reality for many, it is quite common in recent times for people to lose their jobs and, therefore, their incomes. The dark underbelly of this problem that is hardly discussed is that people may lose their children – especially if they are in a custody agreement.
Sometimes, parents have a difficult time providing for their children should inflation, a job loss, or low supply levels of goods occur. This may result in general difficulties for some, but single parents with partial custody of their children may face another difficulty. Sometimes, the other parent in an agreement may try to use this to their advantage to try and pull as many judicial strings as humanly possible. It may be the case that, upon learning this information, they themselves file for a child custody modification.
4. Committance of a Crime by a Parent
A parent committing a crime is serious – not only for breaking the law – but also because it jeopardizes their competency as a parent in the eyes of the courts and their family. Although usually reserved for more serious crimes, judges may deem that a parent that has committed a crime is too incompetent to parent their child.
Embarking on a Child Custody Modification?
Child custody modifications can be grueling. It gives way to the opportunity for old wounds to be reopened, and lives to be altered for the foreseeable future. It is therefore critical that those attempting to modify a child custody agreement do so in a way that is informed and wary of potential pitfalls. Legal professionals should always be confided in for the most relevant advice, in addition to the successful management of a custody modification case. Doing so through the court system is complicated and leaves the door open for a myriad of potential outcomes.