When a couple with children divorces, determining child custody arrangements will often be one of the first issues to be addressed. Some couples may be able to come up with a child custody agreement outside of the courtroom with the help of their attorneys and a mediator. Other couples may need the court to determine custody. In any case, once the custody terms have been determined, the judge will sign an official order, making those terms legally binding. However, you may be able to make changes to your agreement, if the court grants your request for modification.
Reasons for custody modification
There are many reasons one or both parents would want to modify their custody agreement. However, these reasons do not always warrant a modification. Generally, Florida courts will require you to establish a material or unforeseeable change in your life circumstances before approving the modification. The following life changes may warrant a modification:
- Relocation-A parent seeks to move out-of-state for a new job or personal reasons.
- Parental alienation-A parent keeps the child from the other parent or intentionally tries to damage the relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Inability to care for child-A parent is no longer able to care for the child due to health or financial issues.
- Failure to cooperate-A parent fails to adhere to the current parenting agreement or refuses to co-parent.
- Drug or alcohol abuse-A parent develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- Abuse or neglect-There is domestic violence in the home, or the child is being neglected or abused.
If you and your ex can agree on the changes that need to be made, you can file your petition for modification together for the court to approve. If not, the parent seeking modification can file the petition for the court to evaluate. The court will typically hear from both sides and consider several factors, including the child’s age, health, and needs, when determining whether the modification is in the best interest of the child and should be granted. An attorney can help you file your petition and convince the court that the modification is necessary.