Divorced parents in Massachusetts may find that unanticipated changes to their new, separate lives have brought about the need to modify child custody orders. While it is not uncommon for circumstances to change, a family court will not typically consider trivial reasons for child custody modifications. The best interests of the child will remain the primary consideration, and interruptions to the well-being of the child will have to be properly motivated.
Valid reasons for a request for child custody modifications may include dangerous conditions developing in the custodial home, such as domestic violence that threatens the safety of the child. If a child expresses his or her reluctance to live in a home where he or she feels unsafe, the court will usually consider the child’s wishes. Another generally acceptable reason, in the court’s eyes, is the relocation of one of the parents. The relocating parent will have to explain his or her reason for the move and show that the current visitation schedule will be impossible to maintain. The court will likely require a new visitation schedule to accommodate the new circumstances and it will, once again, consider the effects the move will have on the children.
When a custodial parent fails to uphold visitation arrangements, per the visitation plan, thereby denying the other parent time with his or her child, the court may agree to modify the child custody order. Whatever the reason for requesting the modification, changes must be authorized by the court before being instituted by the parents. Even upon the death of a custodial parent, a decision by the court will determine who is given custody of the child.
Many Massachusetts parents choose to consult with an experienced child custody attorney when their circumstances change. The skills of such a professional often include mediation services that may assist parents with reaching agreements that will suit both parties, while not losing sight of the best interests of the child. Your attorney will also assist in documenting the new agreement to be presented to a judge for signature, validating the document as a court order. When mediation fails to bring about mutual agreements, your legal counsel will be prepared to protect your interests in court. If you have more questions about child custody, a visit to our website may provide the answers.
Source: singleparents.about.com, “Child Custody Modification“, Debrina Washington, Nov. 7, 2014