Whether your child custody order was put in place by a judge or negotiated through mediation, you may feel as though the terms of the settlement are set in stone. Yet, even after the decree is finalized, circumstances may occur that require modification of the child custody order.
It is important to keep in mind that any changes made to an existing child custody order must be done with the best interests of the children in mind. The ultimate outcome must be beneficial to the children in some manner.
When to apply for modification
According to Kentucky state statutes, certain life events may occur that warrant a change in child custody. These include the following:
- A parent is incarcerated
- A parent is deployed
- A parent moves a significant distance from the other parent
- The child’s physical and/or emotional health is in danger
- A parent fails to meet his or her court-ordered parenting time, visitation schedule or child support obligations.
Both parents may agree to the child custody modification, simplifying the process. If the parents are not in agreement, a judge may be used to make the final decision. The judge could modify the order from sole-physical custody to joint-physical custody or the other way around.
A look at the factors involved
Parents must wait at least two years before requesting a change to their child support orders. Before making a change, the judge will often consider whether a modification will interrupt the child’s life, such as schooling, friendships, sporting activities and religion. There must be a substantiated reason for the modification and it must ultimately enhance the child’s quality of life.