What To Know About Custody Agreement Alterations

When parents divorce, a custody agreement is sure to follow. While many of the provisions set forth in a divorce decree are permanent, nothing that affects a child is set in stone. Once matters like child support, child custody, and child visitation are settled, the orders can usually be amended. You must have a very good reason for altering the judge's orders, so read on to find out more about this sensitive issue.

The Best Interest of the Child

It's best to approach the issue of altering child custody orders using the same point of view that the family court system does. The best interest of the child is the credo that lies at the heart of every decision made that affects the child. As a parent, your wishes and desires should not be the main focus of any efforts to alter an agreement that applies to a minor-aged child.

Problems With Parenting

In most cases, issues that prompt the re-opening of a child custody case have more to do with the parents than the child. When a parent's life is chaotic, disorganized, or worse, it reflects negatively on the child. For example:

1. Abuse or criminal activity: Proven behavior such as this by a custodial parent should trigger an immediate emergency custody agreement. In most cases, a temporary order will result that removes the child from the custodial parent effective immediately. Take steps to involve law enforcement and keep in mind that if you know about abuse or criminal behavior but do nothing to protect the child, you may be held responsible.

2. Mental health issues: Parents with emotional issues may lose custody, at least temporarily.

3. Drug and alcohol abuse

4. Exposing the child to unsavory influences such as criminals, child sex predators, etc.

5. Refusing to abide by the visitation agreement

6. The child's health has been negatively affected by the beliefs or actions of the custodial parent. A parent who fails to seek medical care for their child might lose custody.

7. The child is struggling in school and the custodial parent is not taking action to address the problem.

It should be noted that one or two incidences of most of the above issues are not enough to prompt a permanent change in custody. An ongoing history of problems might need to be addressed legally, however.

The Child Requests a Change

If the child is old enough, some states allow them to have a say in custody matters. Each state has their own rules about what age or level of maturity gains that child an ear with the judge. The courts may be willing to listen to a child's opinion about custody, but they must consider the entire family dynamic before they order a change. Often, the judge will order the family to undergo counseling or a child custody evaluation before they rule

Speak to a family law attorney, such as those at Goble & Yow PLLC, to learn more.