When parents divorce, one of the most challenging aspects of the negotiations or litigation will be custody. The eventual agreement should be in the children’s best interests. In many cases, an agreement will fail to accommodate the family as the children grow or major changes occur in the parents’ lives. Relocations, new jobs, and new spouses may lead to scenarios where the original agreement no longer applies. As children grow older, they too may eventually have their own valid opinions on where they want to live.
When custody agreements no longer make sense for the children, the court can modify the terms. Parents looking to change their custody arrangements will need the help of a Montgomery County child custody modification lawyer.
Modifications Must Serve the Children
One of the most significant aspects of any custody case is the best interests of the children. The court wants to provide a stable and healthy environment for the children, and creating such a plan is the judge’s goal. If a parent hopes to modify the custody agreement, there are legal hurdles they must overcome in order to do so before the court will even consider their proposed changes.
There are some clear cases where modifications might be needed to protect the well-being of the children. If a parent poses risks to their children or cannot provide an environment that protects them, the other parent may seek to change the terms of the agreement. A parent may choose to take action when the other parent is addicted to drugs, abusive, or mentally unstable, if that parent can prove these allegations.
Children may also want to make changes to the agreement. However, Maryland courts will not allow a child under sixteen to file to modify the custody arrangement. Parents who have questions about filing for a modification should speak to a local lawyer.
Circumstances Must Change for Custody to Change
Courts prefer to avoid a situation where parents are in and out of court constantly arguing over custody arrangements. After all, many parents will spend significant resources trying to litigate the initial agreement, and relitigating these matters can create severe financial hardships for the parents and, ultimately, the children.
In Maryland, a parent will need to convince the court that there has been a material change in circumstances that effects the best interest of the children that creates a need to modify custody terms. Material changes could include a parent relocating or taking a job that causes them to be traveling much of the time so they can no longer serve as a primary caregiver under the terms of the original agreement. Even if a material change occurs, the judge may not agree that a parent’s proposed modifications are in the child’s best interests.
Imagine that a custodial parent took a more demanding job, and the other parent wants to become the primary custodial parent. If switching custody would mean that the child would have to switch schools, the court may find that the proposed modification is not in the child’s best interests. It is important for parents seeking to make changes to a parental agreement to contact an experienced Montgomery County child custody modification attorney.
Discuss Your Case With a Montgomery County Child Custody Modification Attorney
Modifying the terms of a custody agreement might become necessary over time. If you are looking to change your parenting agreement, remember that you will have to show that circumstances changed and that your modifications will better suit the children’s needs. If the parents both favor making changes to the agreement, the process will run far more smoothly and the parents can agree to new terms with very little court involvement.
Changing custody in cases where a parent opposes the modifications will be more challenging. You should also remember that modifying custody may potentially alter child support obligations as well. If you are considering revisions to your custody agreement, contact a Montgomery County child custody modification lawyer for a consultation.