Five Reasons to Modify a Child Custody Order
Parents must establish a child custody agreement with the court to ensure the child is safe and protected moving forward. In Georgia, the judge will base the terms of the custody order on circumstances current to the time of divorce or legitimation action. However, changes can occur over time for children or the parents, requiring modifications to be made to the prior child custody order.
The following are five of the most common reasons to modify a child custody order:
Reason 1: A Parent is Non-compliant with the Current Order
Whether the parents like the terms of the child custody order or not, both must comply with the judge’s decision as stated in the order. If one parent does not follow the rules established in the order, the court can modify it to limit the non-compliant parent’s rights. Additionally, the judge can hold the parent in contempt of court, an offense punishable by jail time, fines, or both.
Examples of noncompliance can include:
- Not returning the child to the other parent on the specified date or at the specified time.
- Not informing the other parent of vacations or out-of-town trips with the child.
- Discouraging the child to visit the other parent.
- Preventing communication between the child and the other parent.
- Missing scheduled visitations.
- Interfering with scheduled visitations.
Reason 2: Either Parent Relocates
Circumstances can arise that lead either the custodial or noncustodial parent to move away from the family’s current city or location. Although relocation for either parent will undoubtedly affect visitation schedules, not every relocation requires a modification action.
The judge could modify a child custody order and establish new terms based on relocation if:
- The move makes it harder for the noncustodial parent to maintain their job and the custody schedule simultaneously.
- The move may positively or negatively alter the child’s life and well-being in any way.
Reason 3: Either Parent Experiences a Change in Circumstances
There are many events that can alter a parent’s circumstances and lead to modification of the child custody order. It is ultimately up to the judge to decide whether a change, either positive or negative, is significant enough to affect the order.
Negative changes can include:
- Job loss.
- Significant injury that keeps the parent from working.
- Newly developed substance abuse.
- Arrest or conviction.
Positive changes can include:
- Recovery from drugs or alcohol addiction.
- Steady employment.
- Improved housing.
Reason 4: The Child Experiences a Change in Circumstances
Children can also experience a change in their circumstances that indicate the need to modify the child custody order.
Changes for the child can include:
- Growing older and reaching new stages in life.
- Developing behavioral, mental, or physical disorders.
- Drastic drop in grades at school.
- New desire to live with the other parent.*
*In Georgia, children 14 years old or older may elect to live with the parent of their choice. Children under 14 may not make the same decision, but the court may consider the child’s opinion when finalizing the order.
Reason 5: Either Parent Places the Child in Danger
The judge decides the child custody order based on the child’s best interest. Should evidence arise that the current order causes harm to the child in any way, the court can and will modify the order to remove them from danger.
Examples of danger can include:
- Abuse of any form (emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, or verbal).
- Negligent care.
- Allowing harmful adults in the child’s presence.
- Mental instability with either parent.
- Substance abuse with either parent.
*If you believe your child is in immediate danger, contact the police, then contact your child custody lawyer to request modification of your custody order.
If you need to modify your child custody order or obtain one, talk to the family law attorneys at Rubin Family Law.
Our team understands the importance of protecting your child’s well-being at every turn. Let us examine your current circumstances and provide expert counsel as we establish a winning child custody arrangement. Call to speak with us about your case today: 770-670-7200