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In many cases, the best way to avoid a drawn out and contentious legal battle is for two parties who are going through a divorce to come to an out-of-court child custody arrangement. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, in which case a court will be required to step in and create a custody plan that it deems is in the best interests of the parties’ children. Once issued, this order will be set in stone, unless one of the parents petitions the court for a modification. While in some situations, both parties will agree to the changes, this is not always the case, so if your ex-spouse has petitioned the court for a modification of an existing child custody arrangement or you are considering asking the court for the modification, it is important to contact a child custody lawyer who can help you defend you prior agreement.
Child custody arrangements generally fall under one of two classifications:
Custody involves both legal custody, which requires both parents to share in decision making responsibilities regarding their child’s health and education, and physical custody, which refers to the amount of time that the child is physically in each parent’s care. Although courts are generally in favor of joint custody arrangements, in which both parents share physical and legal custody, this is not always the best choice for a child. In these situations, the court may award sole physical custody to one parent, but require that the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights be respected and that both parties be involved in decision making.
As time passes, the parties’ circumstances may change. Fortunately, parents are able to request a modification of a child custody or child support order. In some situations, both parents may agree to the modification, but this is not always true, in which case the non-petitioning party will have the opportunity to defend the current plan by proving that the change is not in the child’s best interests. This will require that the non-petitioning party address specific factors, including:
It can also be helpful in these situations for the defending party to provide statements from family members, friends, teachers, and medical providers. These individuals may be able to provide evidence of a child’s development under the current arrangement and so support the defending party’s assertions.
Please contact Iafrate & Salassa at (586) 263-1600 if you or your ex-spouse is attempting to amend your custody arrangement. Our legal team can help ensure that your parental rights are protected.