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5 Reasons a Judge Will Change a Child Custody

by Lily Morgen
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Child Custody

Changing a child custody arrangement is a difficult decision for all involved, but there are some circumstances in which a judge may choose to change the current arrangement. 

The court wants what’s best for the child and will take into consideration any potential changes that could improve their well-being. 

Here are some of the common 5 reasons a judge may order a custody change.

1. Child is in Danger

The safety and well-being of the child are always the top priority. If there are signs that the child is found to be abused physically, emotionally, sexually, or mentally, the court may decide to change their custodial arrangement.

This could mean removing them from a harmful environment or granting one parent sole custody if necessary. In this case, the judge will consult with any medical and mental health professionals who are in contact with the child before making a decision.

2. The Parent’s Situation Has Changed

One of the reasons a judge may change a child custody order is if a parent’s situation has changed significantly since the original ruling. This can include changes to their employment, health, or living situation. 

If either parent experiences an unexpected career transition, illness, or move that affects their ability to care for the child, then they may be able to seek a modification or change in the custody arrangement.

For example, if one parent takes a new job that requires them to travel frequently, then they may not be able to provide the consistent care necessary for their child. 

In this case, changing the custody ruling may be best for all parties involved. Similarly, if one parent moves away, it may not be feasible for them to continue having primary custody of their child.

For instance, if the non-custodial parent starts abusing drugs or becomes addicted to them, the custodial parent may file a petition to have them lose custody. 

It’s important that the parent seeking a change in custody can prove to the court that their situation has indeed changed significantly since the original ruling and that modifying the order is in the best interest of the child. 

3. The Death of a Parent

When a parent dies, the court usually considers modifying the child custody order to provide more stability and consistency in the child’s life. 

Courts may look to family members or close family friends who are willing to take on permanent guardianship of the child. In this case, grandparents can file for custody of grandchildren. If none can be found, then other alternatives such as adoption may be considered.

4. Child Wants a Change

The needs of a child can change over time due to age, physical health, or other circumstances. A judge may modify an existing custody arrangement if the current agreement is no longer in the best interest of the child. 

For instance, a parent may have been granted primary custody when the child was younger but may now require more specialized care that another parent can provide. 

The judge may also consider changing custody if the child’s educational needs are not being met or if there has been a significant change in the parent-child relationship.

5. One Parent Refuses to Follow the Current Custody Order

If one parent refuses to follow the existing custody arrangement, the judge will likely change the order. This is because courts expect both parents to abide by agreed-upon terms and respect each other’s parental rights. If a parent fails to do so, they are not fulfilling their obligations as a custodial parent. 

For example, if one parent continually fails to show up for their scheduled visitations, the judge may conclude that it is in the best interests of the child to modify or replace the existing custody order. In some cases, this could lead to a change in physical and/or legal custody.

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