Most parents want their child to grow up in a healthy and loving environment. As such, sometimes this means changing child custody in order to adapt to the needs of the child or parents in the dynamic.
Child custody is either determined by a married couple or the court system. In Kentucky, the courts are required to refer to the best interest of the child standard when determining child custody. So, what happens when you wish to modify child custody? Today, we go over when it is appropriate to request a custody modification and how to do so.
When Can You Request a Custody Modification?
It is important to note that child custody can be modified and you can ask for a new order. After the initial custody determination, an individual can request to modify custody within the first 2 years if the child's mental, physical, or emotional health is at risk. After this period, the court can modify custody if it finds it in the best interest of the child to do so.
You may request a custody change as your child gets older and his/her needs change. You may also do so to protect the child's physical or mental health (such as in cases of domestic violence) or if one parent plans on relocating, which could negatively impact the child's life.
How to Request a Custody Modification
First of all, a motion for the modification of a custody order cannot be entered into on a whim. As mentioned, the parents must wait 2 years since the creation of the order, or unless the child's health is in danger. To change a custody order, you will need to consult with a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. You will be required to fill out paperwork and file it with the court and then wait for your hearing date.
Reasons for Requesting a Modification
Here are some reasons the court may grant a modification:
- Change in circumstances has happened that will negatively impact the child or parent's life
- Proposed modification would be in the best interests of the child
Some examples of these instances might include but are not limited to the following:
- Death of a custodial parent
- Domestic violence has occurred
- Parent relocates
- Child's needs change (an example would be a child that requires special education classes)
- Co-parent refuses to follow custody agreement
Can You Change Custody Without a Court Order?
An informal agreement does not carry the same weight as a court order, which is legally binding. It would be in your best interests to consult with a lawyer and get your order changed in court.
You do not necessarily have to go to court to modify an order though. You do have the option of signing an agreement with your co-parent and filing it with the court. You will need to explain your reason for requesting this change along with proof. This option only works if you and your co-parent are in agreement about modifying the agreement itself.
When it comes to modifying a custody agreement, secure the experienced legal counsel of our firm. Contact us online to schedule a consultation.