When Can My Child Custody Order Be Modified?

When you go through a divorce and children are involved, the ensuing custody battle can get ugly. It’s important for parents to be involved and normal for them to fight for the right to raise their kids. In many cases, neither parent gets what they want out of the custody ordeal, but it’s important to remember that custody orders aren’t final.

If you are looking to earn more time with your kids or are hoping to avoid losing the time you’ve already earned, this information is for you. We want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward in the best interests of your children.

Parental relocation

We’ll touch on this one first because we recently wrote a blog on this subject. Alabama family court officials are required under the Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act to show a preference for providing children access to both parents.

This means the custodial parent will face serious challenges if they attempt to move far enough away where consistent visitation with the noncustodial parent would be unreasonable. The custodial parent would have the burden of proving the move is in the best interest of the child and not themselves. The courts obviously want the well-being of each parent to be cared for, but it’s the children of the divorce that will take precedent over any personal or professional relocation decisions.

Financial changes

Alabama custody orders are likely to consider the financial stability of both parents in making a custody decision. This means the parent who is more financially stable and able to provide a higher quality of life to a child has a leg up in the custody battle.

Finances change over time. If you are a noncustodial parent who gets a big promotion or comes by a large sum of money through other legal means, you may be able to petition the court for additional custodial rights. This also applies if the custodial parent becomes unemployed or loses a large sum of money.

At the end of the day, the ability to provide for a child is one of the most important factors in a custody case. Alabama family court officials aren’t going to force a child into poverty.

Physical, emotional, or mental abuse

Court officials are going to put the safety of your child first. If there is evidence of any form of abuse that puts the physical or mental well-being of your child at risk, the court can and will hold an emergency hearing to reconsider the terms of custody.

The abuse does not have to come directly from either parent either. In Alabama, the court can consider custodial changes if one parent is exposing their child to dangerous individuals in their home or in other settings. If you suspect your ex has the wrong people hanging around your child, you should contact officials immediately.

These same rules apply if rampant drug or alcohol use is present. Your children should not be exposed to an environment where the only caretakers present are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This puts them at risk and could be justification for an emergency hearing to alter the custody agreement.

Best interests of the child

There are several other circumstances that could impact your custody case. The judge will consider the entirety of a child’s situation to ensure their best interests are being tended to in a custody agreement. This includes additional circumstances such as:

  • The preference of the child
  • Joint requests to modify the custody agreement
  • Schooling
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Access to resources

Attorney John M. Totten prides himself on making sure families are taking the best interests of their children seriously. We handle child custody cases from the start and through the modification process. If you feel you need to make changes to your custody agreement, contact our offices.

John M. Totten