If you recently resolved child custody issues in court, the agreement is binding on both parents. However, a time may arise in which the arrangements need to be changed. One way to resolve these issues is by filing a motion to change child custody. Here are some tips for filing a motion to change child custody.
Determine a Just Cause
A court will not grant a motion to change child custody unless the reason is just, and the current arrangement is not working for both parties. Common reasons that warrant a motion to change child custody include:
- a parent lives with someone abusive
- the custodial parent has been reported to child services
- the custodial parent has an addiction
- one parent is relocating
- one parent has a change in income
Courts base their custody decision on stability. Perhaps you as a non-custodial parent were forbidden to see the child because you had an addiction, but you are now clean. A sudden change in location or income of the custodial parent could affect the child, and the other parent would provide the stability.
Prove the Reason
You must prove to the court the circumstance changed, and the modification is in the best interest of the child. For example, if the home is a danger, gather witness statements and police reports. You can't just say the current home presents a danger to the child.
Be aware the filing should have merit, or it will be dismissed. In most states, a non-custodial parent must wait two years before filing a motion to change child custody. If need arises to file a motion to change child support before the time limit, you will need to get an affidavit, and show the child is in danger.
Agree on a Modification and File the Motion
If possible, try to reach an agreement with the custodial parent on the change to make. Both parents need to agree on this arrangement. Two kinds of child custody can be modified: legal and physical. Legal custody means the custodial parent has the sole authority to make educational, medical, and religious decisions for the child. Physical custody refers to the parent who the child lives with the most.
After an agreement has been made, file a motion with your local court. Most court system provide the forms online, or through the county clerk's office, and be prepared to pay fees. The forms you need will depend on the situation. For example, if for a change in income, you need a Petition to Modify Support. If you can't reach an agreement with the other parent, you need a Motion to Set hearing forms.
Though you don't need a family lawyer, child custody laws are complex. If your case ends in litigation, contact a family law firm like Borowiec & Borowiec PC Attorneys At Law to help you navigate the process.