Worcester Child Custody Modification Lawyers
Child custody provisions can be one of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce agreement. Once your divorce is final, you may request to change the custodial arrangements outlined in the decree if you can meet the burden of showing a significant change in circumstances. If you are unsatisfied with your current custodial arrangement and need to request a change, or if your former spouse is seeking a modification and you wish to contest it, our seasoned attorneys are here to help.
Our Worcester child custody modification lawyers can provide insight regarding your legal options and help you protect your family. O’Connor Family Law has over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience. Therefore, we have the skill and knowledge to handle many types of situations and can offer legal guidance on various circumstances regarding the custody of your children.
Reasons to Request a Child Custody Modification
There are several different circumstances in which the court may grant a child custody modification. Generally, you or your ex-partner may only file a complaint for a change in your arrangement if one or both parents experience a significant change in their situation. Additionally, courts will only grant these requests if this change is in the child’s best interests. One common example where a parent may request a child custody modification is when they are moving out of the city or state, which is called relocation. Another situation in which altering an order may be necessary is when one parent is abusing alcohol or illegal substances, and they are no longer fit to retain custodial rights.
As there are two types of custody – physical and legal – it’s important to know which one you are seeking to modify. Physical custody would be where the child resides the majority of the time and the parenting plan schedule. Legal custody would be the right to make major decisions about the child, such as his or her medical care, education, or religion, to name a few.
There are a variety of factors a judge will look at when reviewing a petition for child custody modification. These factors include:
- The income of each parent.
- The physical condition of each parent.
- The emotional condition of each parent.
The quantity of time each parent dedicates to their child and the extent to which each party contributes to their child’s welfare also may be a consideration. The judge will usually look at the kind of home each party can offer and how the alteration will ultimately affect the child’s life and routine as well. Our attorneys can explain additional factors that may affect the court’s decision in a specific child custody modification case.
When Might a Court Deny Modification?
There must be a notable shift in the situation of one or both parents for a custody modification request to be well-founded in the eyes of the court. If the court evaluates the request and deems that the change being requested would not serve the child’s best interests, they may deny the petition. One situation where we have seen complaints for modification be denied is where the child is older – usually around the age of 15 – and the parent who has had more limited parenting time files seeking for the child to come live with them full-time. These types of requests are not always denied, but the Court will always question whether this may be a situation where a teenager has discovered he or she can get away with more at the “non-custodial” parent’s home so he or she decides they want to live there instead of with the stricter parent.
However, at the age of 15 and 16, the Court also considers what’s referred to as “kids have feet of their own,” meaning, if a kid decides to get up and leave one parent’s home at that age, it becomes difficult for the Court to stop them.
Filing for Alterations to a Custody Agreement
If both parents agree upon a custodial change, they can jointly file a modification petition for a judge to review and, so long as the judge does not question whether the change is really in the child’s best interest, the modification will usually be approved administratively.
However, the process is somewhat more complicated if just one parent wants to change the existing agreement. In this situation, the parent must submit a complaint for modification and provide information to support their request. If their change being requested is due to an emergent issue, then that parent can file a motion for temporary orders in relation to the complaint for modification. If there is no emergent reason why the change needs to happen immediately, then the judge can deny the temporary request and allow the case to run its course.
If a motion hearing is held, both sides will have the opportunity to present their arguments for why the order should or should not change if they are not able to come to an agreement on their own. If the change is not due to an emergency, the judge will usually not hear anything about your case until your pretrial conference. At this hearing, you will need a memorandum laying out what outcome you want and why you should get what you’re looking for. The judge will then usually provide some feedback to help enable the settlement of the case.
Contact Our Worcester Child Custody Modification Attorneys
If you need help filing or contesting a child custody modification, do not hesitate to seek qualified legal representation from O’Connor Family Law. Our Worcester child custody modification lawyers can advocate for your parental rights while working to achieve an outcome that promotes the best interests and welfare of your child.
Call (774) 214-2137 now to discuss your case with one of our extraordinary legal professional!
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