Child custody is often one of the most contested issues during a separation or a divorce. When making a ruling on who becomes the custodial parent, the court takes into consideration the child’s best interest. However, it is important to understand that child custody is not always cast on stone.
Child custody orders can be appealed and modified if an appropriate modification petition is presented before the court. If you would like to have the child custody order modified, you will need to file a petition and demonstrate why the court should reconsider the previous ruling.
Here are valid instances when a child custody order can be modified:
The child is in danger
Since the child’s best interest is always the primary factor when deciding custody, endangerment is one of the most compelling reasons why the court will consider reviewing and modifying custody. If one parent is engaging in behaviors that put the child’s life in danger, the other parent can petition the court to modify custody and limit the offending parent’s custody rights. Examples of behaviors that can be deemed a threat to the child’s best interest include:
- Abuse – emotional, physical, verbal and sexual
- Substance and alcohol abuse by a parent
- Serious mental health issues
In essence, anything that creates a dangerous or actually harmful atmosphere for the child can be reason enough for custody modifications.
Changes to the child’s needs
What works for a toddler may not work for a teenager in high school. A child may need a different environment in order to excel at various stages in their life, making a change of homes more appropriate. If one parent can prove to the court that the child’s needs have since changed, they may have valid grounds for custody review and modification. Also, custody modification can be sought if the child develops emotional, mental or physical disorder making one parent suited to care for the child.
The court will consider modifying custody only if it is in the child’s best interest. While you may believe that a custody modification is essential, you must have solid grounds before your petition can be reviewed and granted.