Divorce is a challenging issue, especially when you have to split time with your children. It often happens that divorce among parents ends with arrangements for custody and visitation that leave either or both parents dissatisfied and frustrated. Further, it is common for circumstances to change in the months and years following a divorce, making it necessary to pursue a change to the custody orders. Suppose you find yourself in a situation where you feel it is necessary to get the orders applying to custody and visitation with your children modified. In that case, it is important to ensure that you fully understand the legal process, your rights, and the potential challenges you face. Below we cover the basics of changing child custody orders and the factors that affect whether or not you can modify those court orders.
Is a Court Case Necessary to Change Custody?
The only way to legally change court orders is to go through the court system. If both parties agree on modifying an existing order, it is possible to complete the modification without a hearing. However, when you do come to a new amendment, the court should approve the new agreement.
Factors that Affect Custody Modification
The courts do not like moving a child without reason. However, if the best interest of the child is involved, custody may be modified. It is essential to understand the factors that influence a custody order, some of which are:
Age and sex of the child
Wishes of the child
Interactions within the home of both parents
Adjusting to school and community
Mental and physical health of all parties
Evidence of violence
Evidence that the child is cared for by someone other than the legal custodial parent
Situations Where the Court May Alter Custody
Changing custody is different than changing child support. Custody affects where a child lives and their visitation rights, but there are certain situations where the court may change custody. For instance, if a child gets older and wants to be with the other parent or if the current custodial parent moves away from any family or friends, custody may be changed.
Abuse in the home is another reason to modify custody. Indiana Code 31-17-4-5 discusses situations when a child is in danger. If it is shown that the custodial parent is causing harm to the child, a judge may modify custody.
How to Modify Custody
In Indiana, you must file a motion to modify custody. You also must prove to the judge that your circumstances have changed and that it is in the child’s best interest to change existing agreements. This means that there has to have been a change in the child’s preferences, income, evidence of violence at the other parent’s home, or some other substantial changes.
Work with a Trusted Carmel Family Law Attorney
When you are interested in modifying your current custody agreement, it is best to speak with an experienced lawyer. At HOLLINGSWORTH ROBERTS MEANS, we deal with countless family law cases. We understand the complexities of Indiana law and are willing to help you change your custody orders.
Call us at (888) 211-3888 to schedule a consultation regarding your case today!