The custody agreement created at the time of your divorce represents the Court’s opinion on your child’s situation at the time of the divorce. Since then, you or your child may have experienced any number of changes in life. Your child will of course be older or you could have moved, changed shifts at work, any number of things might have transpired since the initial custody judgment was made. No matter the circumstance, it is likely that your custody agreement might not have foreseen many of the changes in your lives. If your child spends the majority of his or her time with your ex and your ex loses his or her job, for example, your child’s future might be more challenging with that parent. Remember that the Court typically will only accept modifications to the custody judgment if there has been a finding of a change in circumstances arising out of and pertaining to custody of the child. Because the Court values stability and consistency so highly, you must be able to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances first, only to then, once that hurdle has been met, be allowed to present evidence as to what is best for your child in this context.
Obviously, factors like domestic violence or imminent danger in the home can lead to a change in custody agreement. However, factors that don’t physically threaten your child such as relocation, financial security, and uncooperative co-parents can also result in a change of custody agreement. If you are unsure about your co-parent’s behavior or don’t know if you can alter your custody arrangement, speak to an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney can tell you whether or not you have a case to challenge the custody agreement and the steps you need to take to do so. He or she will walk you through the mediation process and help seek the changes you desire in order to strengthen your child’s experiences and best interests, whether that takes the form of increased visitation hours or a change of the custodial parent.