Many parents wonder if their child custody orders issued by a state family court judge are set in stone. In the vast majority of circumstances, a court will uphold the existing child custody orders unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances. These changes in circumstances could involve one parent getting a new job in another place that’s far away, one parent going to jail and other kinds of situations.

Let’s look at a few example situations that could result in the modification of a judge’s child custody orders:

A serious health condition: A serious health problem could arise for the custodial parent making it impossible for him or her to care for the children on his or her own. In these circumstances, it may be only natural for the other, noncustodial parent to step forward and assume the role of primary caretaker. In these circumstances – provided the noncustodial parent is a fit parent – the court will likely approve of the new arrangements.

Conviction of child abuse or sexual offenses: Courts will always seek to protect a child from a convicted child abuser or sexual offender. If the custodial parent is convicted of such offenses, the other parent might receive exclusive custody rights. However, a court may still permit supervised visitation with the potentially dangerous parent in certain situations.

If you want to modify your child custody arrangements, you will benefit from fully understanding state child custody laws as well as the process for applying for a child custody modification. With a better understanding of your situation from a legal perspective, you will have better chances of success.

Source: Findlaw, “Information about modifying your divorce decree,” accessed Feb. 23, 2018