When making decisions regarding child custody, Florida courts do so in pursuit of an arrangement which protects and promotes the best interests of the child. The child’s best interests are the guiding factor in such determinations. In order to get a sense of what is in the best interests of the child, the judge will consider things like the child’s age, each parent’s relationship with the child, and each parent’s living situation as well as each parent’s ability to provide stability and willingness to support the other parent’s relationship with the child.
After careful consideration, the judge will render a decision on which custody arrangement works best. While child custody arrangements will not be changed simply because one parent or the other is dissatisfied with the arrangement, the law does provide for times when child custody can be modified. After all, things change, people change, and circumstances change as time goes on. It would be unrealistic and impractical for the law to not allow for any changes to a custody arrangement accordingly.
When Can Child Custody Be Modified?
While child custody can be modified, it cannot be modified under any old circumstances. There are only specific times and instances where child custody can be modified. Generally speaking, the only time when a Florida court may consider modifying a custody arrangement is when both parents agree to the modification or there has been a substantial change in circumstances meriting the modification.
Both parents agreeing to the child custody modification is by far the easiest way that child custody can be modified. Each parent needs to agree to the terms and a new parenting agreement must be drafted. The agreement must then be approved by the judge.
Without both parents in agreement about a child custody modification, there must be a substantial change in circumstances for a court to grant the modification. Such a change may have been sudden or happened over time, but it must be substantial in nature. A substantial change may be something like an injury or illness sustained by one of the parents. It may be something like a parent relocating to a much different geographic location that would make the current custody arrangement untenable. A modification to the child custody arrangement will only be granted, however, if the petitioning parent can show to the court that such a modification would be in the child’s best interests.
While mutual parental agreement and substantial change in circumstances are the two main ways for custody modifications to come about, courts can also modify custody in Florida when an injunction for protection against domestic violence has been entered against a parent. In this type of situation, the court may grant emergency relief and award sole custody until the injunction has been lifted.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
At Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, our team of dedicated family law attorneys can help you seek modification of your child custody arrangements. These can be tricky to navigate and we are committed to helping you through the entire process. Contact us today.