Child Custody Modifications in Virginia
When you obtain a child custody order, either through agreement with the other parent or a judge’s decision, you should understand that this schedule will not work forever. Your situation, the other parent’s schedule, and your child’s needs will evolve. Eventually, these changes may require a modification to your child custody order. You might also need to modify a child custody order if you believe your child’s other parent is not fit to have custody or visitation due to child neglect, child abuse, or addiction. Whatever the reason, if you need to change the child custody order, contact an experienced Leesburg child custody lawyer today.
When a Child Custody Modification Will be Granted
A judge will only change your child’s custody arrangement if there has been a material change in circumstances and a new schedule is within your child’s best interests. A material change in circumstances is a major or significant change from the situation when the initial custody situation was determined. This principle disqualifies insignificant reasons for adjusting your child’s schedule, like your child taking on a sport after school.
Whether or not a new custody agreement is within your child’s best interests will rely on nine specific factors laid out in Virginia law and any other factors the court believes are necessary and appropriate to the situation. These factors are:
- Your child’s age and physical and mental condition
- Your and the other parent’s ages and physical and mental conditions
- Your and the other parent’s relationships with the child
- Your child’s needs
- The role you and the other parent played and will play in the future in regard to caring for your child
- Your and the other parent’s propensity to support your child’s relationship with one another or to deny access to the child
- You and the other parent’s willingness to maintain a close relationship with the child
- Your child’s preference
- Any history of family abuse or sexual abuse
Examples of Significant Changes in Circumstances
There are certain situations that usually qualify as a significant change in circumstances. You can seek a child support modification if:
- You or the other parent is moving
- Your child’s education, medical, or other needs have changed
- Your or the other parent’s employment situation or schedule has changed to the extent that a child is impacted.
- Your home life has changed, such as you are now married, divorced or the stability of the home has changed
- The other parent’s home life has changed for the worse, creating an unstable or unsafe environment for your child
- The other parent has become addicted to drugs or alcohol
How to Ask for a Child Custody Modification
In most situations, you will need to petition the court to review and change your current child support order. Once you file this petition with the court, you must ensure the other parent is served a copy of the petition and summons to appear in court at a certain day and time. You will be required to provide evidence that there has been a material change in circumstances and a different custody arrangement is within your child’s best interests.
Establishing both of these elements can be difficult, which is why it is important to work with an experienced child custody attorney. You may be able to show that the situation has changed, however that does not mean your child will benefit from less time with his or her other parent.
Contact a Leesburg Child Custody Lawyer Today
If you believe your should have a greater amount of visitation or full custody of your child, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC to learn about modifying the current child support order. We serve individuals throughout Northern Virginia who need help with family matters.