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How to Modify a Custody Order

Life changes. Children grow up. Parents get new jobs, lose jobs, or move to different places. So, a child custody order must then change to adapt to the new circumstances in a child's life.

How do you modify a custody order?

By Agreement

Courts will often approve any changes that both parents agree to. If you and the other parent have an agreement on a child custody modification, you just have to submit the changes to the judge that originally approved your first custody order. Most courts will have some kind of stipulation form for you to fill out.

By Hearing

When parents cannot consent to changes, you will have to go to court to ask the judge for a modification.

Request a Modification

You will have to fill out your local court's form for a request for order. In this request for order, you have to explain why a modification is necessary.

Show Changed Circumstances

Courts usually require some kind of change in circumstance before they will grant a modification. A changed circumstance must be a major change to qualify. Changed circumstances can include:

  • One parent moves away;
  • One parent is charged with a crime or has been investigated by CPS
  • The child has grown up or started school; or
  • The custodial parent refuses visitation to the non-custodial parent.

Go to Mediation

Often, you and the other parent will be sent to mediation before the judge grants a modification. At mediation, a mediator will help you and the other parent discuss the modification.

If you can agree to a change during mediation, the mediator will write up the order for you, and the court will adopt the order. If you cannot come to an agreement, the mediator will write up a recommendation to the court. While the court may or may not adopt the recommendation, judges usually do.

If you do need to modify your custody order, an experienced family law attorney will be able to help.

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