Custody determinations include many complicated factors. The agreements that parents reach may make sense at one point but become less practical over time. Major life changes may abruptly make a schedule less workable as well.
When parents find a need to change a custody arrangement, they will need to either reach a new custody agreement and have it be included in a new court order or litigate and go through the courts to get a new schedule. Sometimes one parent might feel that the schedule needs to change while the other might not want to alter anything. In such cases, both parents will need to find a Maryland custody modifications lawyer who can advocate on their behalf.
Material Change and Modifications
Parents might spend significant time and money negotiating an initial custody agreement. If either party could relitigate the agreement any time they wanted, the agreement would not be worth much to the family. In Maryland, the parent who wants to change the custody arrangement has the burden of proving to the court that there was a material change in circumstances that effects the best interest of the child that makes it necessary to reevaluate the agreement.
Even if the parent can show that there is a material change in circumstances, they will have to indicate that those changes effect the best interests of the children and then a new analysis of what schedule is in the best interests of the children will take place. If the custodial parent moved but still lives in the same school district, that might be a material change, but the court might find that the children will be better off continuing to follow the original schedule. To convince the court that the changes are material and effect the best interest of the children if a very tough road to go through, and then they have to convince the court that the changes they are suggesting are in the best interest of the children.
Suppose the material change created a situation that adversely impacts the child or children. In that case, the court might find a way to modify the custody arrangement to limit the negative effects. A Maryland custody modification attorney can help parents understand their legal options.
Changes That Might Lead to Custody Modifications
Courts work to protect children from dangerous and harmful environments. If a parent is putting the children’s well-being in jeopardy, the court might modify the custody arrangement. Drug abuse, physical abuse, or severe emotional instability may lead to a need for modifications that will prevent harm to the children.
Relocation is another significant change that could warrant modifications to a schedule. Courts might alter agreements if the custodial parent chooses to move to a new location, and the child must switch schools and lose time with the non-custodial parent or extended family.
Children who are at least sixteen can file their own motion to modify custody in Maryland with the help of an attorney advocate. Courts will still require that the child prove that their proposed modification is in their best interests. This is never encouraged, more likely the parents will honor the sixteen-year-old’s request and just enter into a new agreement. Anyone looking to alter a custody arrangement should consult with a dedicated Maryland family law attorney who can evaluate their case.
Modifications and Child Support
When they determine the amount of child support one parent should pay to the other, courts consider the custody arrangement. A parent responsible for supporting the child more of the time will likely receive more support than one who has the children for less time.
Because child support amounts and custody agreements impact one another, changes to custody will often mean altering support payments as well. It is important to speak to an experienced Maryland custody attorney to learn all of the potential ramifications of a custody modification.
Hire a Maryland Custody Modification Attorney
Life is full of big changes. Sometimes custody agreements need reworking to accommodate those changes. Parents should not attempt to informally change agreements because this can lead to serious conflict and consequences.
Even in cases where the parents both agree to the modifications, the parties should hire attorneys to codify the new agreement. If you are contemplating a change to your custody agreement, contact a Maryland custody modification lawyer to discuss your options.