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Modification of Child Custody Judgments
Sometimes after a divorce is final and the Parenting Plan has been decided, circumstances change causing one of the parents to seek a change to the agreements.
You or your former spouse can return to court and file a Motion to Modify when such changes occur. In order to seek a modification in a custody order or Parenting Plan, a party must set out sufficient facts that show a change in circumstances from the time of the Judgment and that one or more provisions of the Judgment are no longer in the best interests of the child. If the standard seems somewhat lacking in specificity, it is somewhat by design – ultimately, the court must do what is best for the children.
Generally, when a party seeks a modification, it involves a change in legal custody, a change in physical custody, a change in the Parenting Plan, or sometimes all three. A change in legal or physical custody requires a higher showing of changed circumstances than is required for a change in the Parenting Plan. Essentially, the court will go through the same decision-making process originally used, but will use the current circumstances to reach a conclusion.
Modifications are very complicated and often complex matters, particularly if a party seeks a change in both legal and physical custody. It begins to resemble a contested divorce, and the procedures are generally very similar. To chart the most beneficial course for your modification proceeding, you’ll want to consult with a skilled and experienced attorney.