Child custody arrangements often require modifications as children grow older and inevitable life changes occur. If you reside in Orange County, Florida, and have reason to modify the child custody plan you agreed to in your original divorce decree, Orlando Family Team is here to help. Like other matters pertaining to divorce, modifying your child custody agreement is a legal process and is best handled by a knowledgeable child custody attorney.
Reasons for Child Custody Modifications in Orange County
In order to convince a Florida court that your present child custody arrangements need to be changed, the law requires proof of “substantial change in circumstances,” one that was unpredictable at the time the divorce agreement was signed. As you would expect, the court is always focused on the perceived best interests of the child and will consider child custody modifications for reasons including the following:
- Changing needs of a children as they age (e.g. are weaned, start attending school, become adolescents)
- Changing relationships between a child and one of the parents
- Altered living situation of either parent (e.g. relocation/change of work schedule)
- Serious illness or injury of one parent
- Altered stability of either parent (e.g. mental illness, drug or alcohol use)
- Inability of one parent to provide reasonable accommodations/safe environment (e.g. evidence of squalor, improper visitors, criminal activity)
- Incidents of domestic violence or child abuse by either parent or a resident in either parent’s home
- One parent’s unwillingness to support the other parent’s relationship with the child (e.g. making visitation difficult or impossible for the noncustodial parent)
- Altered status of the child (e.g. diagnosis of special needs/special talents, that may require intervention one parent is better prepared to offer)
- Entrance of a new partner into one parent’s life who is not an appropriate role model for the child
It should be noted that, under Florida law, one parent’s dislike of the present child custody arrangements does not constitute a valid reason for child custody modification. Neither does a job promotion, a single incident of domestic violence, or drug or alcohol abuse.
If both parents agree to the modification, their child custody lawyers can take care of the matter relatively simply. If the change is contested, however, the case will have to be decided by a judge, and the attorney’s skills will be put to greater use.
When One Parent Fails to Follow the Custody Terms in Orange County
Because child custody agreements are legally binding, both parents must abide by them. If one parent breaches the terms of the custody agreement, that may be adequate cause for a modification of the child custody agreement. The following are considered breaches of the custody agreement:
- The custodial parent denies the other parenting time
- The noncustodial parent consistently fails to return the child on time
- The custodial parent withholds the child over a child support dispute
- The custodial parent has permitted the child to live with the noncustodial parent for a significant amount of time
- One parent has abandoned the child, either failing to see the child for months or failing to assume parenting responsibilities
- One parent has been held in contempt of court at least twice within 3 years for failing to adhere to the parenting plan
- The child is no longer safe in their current environment
As you can see, there is some overlap between the two previous lists. The takeaway here is that if the child’s needs are failing to be met by one parent or the child is in any danger or suffering harm, child custody modifications are critical.
As caring, capable child custody attorneys with extensive experience in this particular area of divorce law, Orlando Family Team is fully prepared to fight for your right to protect your child and to see to it that modifications to your child custody agreement are made when necessary, urgently if the situation requires immediate action.
Looking More Closely at One Common Type of Child Custody Modifications
There are many reasons a divorced parent may relocate:
- To be near family members who will be emotionally supportive and/or provide assistance with childcare
- To take a job offer that will increase income and advancement opportunities
- To take advantage of educational opportunities for parents or children
- To be closer to a school or health facility that will meet a child’s special needs
- To be near a new romantic partner
It should be remembered that court approval of a child custody modification due to relocation
is not automatic. The judge must determine whether the suggested changes are in the best interests of the child, especially if they involve more visitation.
Child custody modifications that may make parental relocation workable include:
- Altering the length of custody periods (if there is joint custody) to avoid frequent long trips between parental homes
- Allowing the noncustodial parent longer, though less frequent, periods of parenting time (such as summer vacation or one school semester rather than alternating weekends)
Such arrangements are rarely ideal, as they may involve major interruptions in the child’s routine. Even so, if both parents are genuinely looking out for the best interests of their child, they are likely to find a creative way to work things out.
Of course, if one parent relocates within comfortable driving distance from the other, only minor alterations in child custody arrangements may be needed. Regardless, a skilled attorney can help you by writing a clear petition for child custody modifications that meets legal standards and by developing a persuasive strategy if a hearing is required.
Contact Our Experienced Orange County Child Custody Modifications Attorneys Now
As in all matters involving the well-being of your child, seeking excellent legal representation is crucial. Our legal team has a well-deserved reputation for efficient and empathic service. If you need to modify your child custody plan, contact us today to discuss your best options.