When a family court issues child custody orders, it always considers the best interests of the children. Therefore, when there is a drastic change in circumstance from when the orders were issued, the court can modify its earlier position or issue fresh directives.
There are several situations when this can happen, as discussed below.
When the children’s well-being is on the line
As mentioned, the children take priority in all custody decisions. If the current arrangement puts them at risk or does not serve their best interests, a judge is likely to give new orders. For example, if your co-parent is abusive towards the kids or if they relocated with them to a dangerous neighborhood, the court can intervene to protect the children.
Other instances may include a co-parent’s alcohol, substance abuse or imprisonment.
When your co-parent is constantly violating the existing orders
Custody orders are enforceable. If your co-parent is constantly violating court-issued orders, you can file a motion of contempt against them. They could face a raft of legal penalties. Depending on the situation, the judge may issue an order modifying the current terms of custody if it’s a viable solution.
A judge will not be too quick to modify child custody orders without justifiable reason, so make sure that you have solid ground upon which to bring your petition, not just mere frustration with your co-parent or speculation.
It is equally advisable to have a good grasp of how the entire process works and what you need to do along the way. It will help you navigate the custody modification process smoothly and increase the chances of a successful outcome.