Can An Existing Child Custody Agreement Be Modified?

Following a divorce or legal separation in which children are involved, a child custody agreement outlines custody specifications and visitation rights for both parents. Over time, these arrangements might need to be re-evaluated and changed, resulting in a modification of the original document.

Several circumstances over the course of a parent or child’s life can cause a perceived need to change the terms of the original agreement. However, these changes must be substantial to warrant a revision of the original custodial arrangement. In fact, in most states, the courts will not allow a petition for modification if the reasons are deemed frivolous, or are not in the best interest of the child. It is also worth noting that these proceedings might involve many months of discussion and hearings between both parties, a process the court rarely sees being in the best interest of the child.

Valid changes in circumstances will merit court consideration, and these can include:

* a job change that permanently disrupts a visitation schedule or financial circumstances

* relocation of a parent

* one parent remarrying

* any significant changes in the physical, mental or financial status of a parent

* more serious considerations including the incarceration or death of one parent or a sudden change in the child’s physical or emotional state.

Terms of custody agreements are state specific, as is the process to get a modification. In order to be sure that the modification you are seeking is valid, it is best to hire a licensed family attorney. These professionals are well-versed in local laws and recent precedents which might affect the outcome of the modification you are seeking.

In addition, a family law representative can help a client wade through legal jargon as well as required forms, both in and out of court, preventing the possibility of emotionally damaging or financially costly rulings.

Finally, if a child is old enough for their opinion to be considered, a judge might ask how he or she feels about a particular outcome. It is rare, however, that any changes will be made based on children’s preferences alone. Too often, their preferences are based on matters such as parental discipline, and therefore their preferences can change often. Even if a child chooses one parent over the other, the final custody decision ultimately remains with the judge.

Custody agreements can be modified, but only when a significant change in the parent or child’s life makes the change absolutely necessary. Consult a family law specialist to help determine whether or not your agreement should be modified.

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Stephen Daniels is an acclaimed NetBiz SEO 2.0 researcher. If you seek family attorneys in Las Vegas, he recommends Mullins Law Firm. With expertise in all areas of family and divorce law, including child custody agreements, these attorneys handle each case with efficiency, expedience and compassion.

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