As children grow and circumstances change, parents may find that a custody modification is necessary.
Over time, parents may relocate or remarry, and children’s needs may change necessitating a custody modification. The most important factor in considering a custody modification is the best interest of the child.
When it comes to simple custody modifications, parents can informally agree to minor changes in arrangements. For minor changes such as changed visitation times or dates, parents do not need to have a contested hearing. If the parents agree to a major modification to the custody arrangement, such as where the children reside the majority of the time, this change must be filed with the court in order to formally alter the custody order.
When parents disagree about a custody modification, court intervention will be necessary. The parent seeking a modification must file a motion to modify with the court. The non-moving parent has an opportunity to respond to the opposing parent’s motion. In a contested modification, the parent seeking a modification must present evidence as to why the change should be made. The other parent is also given the opportunity to present evidence challenging the proposed modification. Parents may also work together to settle without going through a trial.
In order for a court to modify a custody arrangement, there must be a continuing and substantial change in the child’s circumstances or in the parents’ circumstances. If the circumstances existed and were known at the time of the prior order, a modification will not be available. A custody modification will only be granted when it is in the best interest of the child.
If you think that a custody modification may be in your child’s best interest, an experienced Missouri family law attorney at Quitmeier Law Firm can guide you through this process.