When Can Custody Orders Be Modified?

When parents get divorced and child custody orders are created, they often come with a sense of finality and permanence. It is important for the whole family to know what to expect when it comes to where and with whom the children will live, and these orders provide much-needed stability.

That being said, child custody rulings are not always fixed until the children reach adulthood. Courts understand that needs and circumstances change, and custody orders need to be adaptable in order to continue meeting the best interests of children. Under the right conditions, orders can be modified.

Changes in Parental Circumstances

Parents may be able to petition the court to modify custody if there has been a substantial change in the personal or professional circumstances of one or both parents.

This could include:

  • A major long-term change in work schedule that would impact one parent’s ability to spend time with and care for the kids
  • One parent’s needs or choice to move out of state or a significant distance away from the other parent (commonly known as move-away cases)
  • A change in one parent’s living situation that makes it unhealthy, unsafe, or otherwise unfit for the child to be there

Changes in Child Needs or Circumstances

The needs of children often change over time. If they change significantly enough that one parent cannot meet them, it may be time to modify the custody order.

Examples of substantial change include:

  • Development of a serious medical condition and related treatment
  • Special medical needs that cannot be met by one parent
  • The child needs to change schools, especially if doing so requires a relocation

Other Considerations

Custody can also sometimes be modified when there is a major shift in the relational dynamics between co-parents or between child and parent. If one parent stops abiding by the current custody order, for instance, the other parent can likely petition for a change in custody.

If there is a major falling out between the child and one parent, it may be in the child’s best interests to modify the order. Because some conflict is inevitable as children grow, however, the standard for modification would be quite high in the last example mentioned.

If your parenting schedule is currently dictated by a court order and you believe that a change is necessary and appropriate, please contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your rights and legal options.

Related Posts
  • What You Need to Know About Seeking Spousal Support Modifications Read More
  • Advice for Divorcing Couples Selling Their Homes Read More
  • How to Maintain Your Sense of Humor During Your Divorce Read More

Get Started With Our Experienced Advocate

Contact US Today
  • An Aggressive Litigator

    Our trial-tested attorney is as confident in the courtroom as she is in mediation.

  • Decades of Experience

    With almost 30 years of experience, Kelley A. Joseph is respected among the legal community.

  • A Straight-Shooter
    Our attorney will speak honestly with you, treating you with respect and transparency.
  • Communication is a Priority
    We value being accessible to you, and you'll be kept in the loop on the status of your case at every step.
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.