When Can You Modify Child Custody?

Children need to have the support of their parents, and they should be on a routine custody schedule. It is relatively common to need to modify a child custody schedule, because people’s lives change. As your children get older, they may need different support at different times, requiring you and your ex-spouse to work out new custody arrangements.

There are times when you may want to request a child custody modification—other than during an annual review, for example, such as if one parent falls ill, gets into trouble with the law or has major changes to their work schedule.

There are a couple of times when it’s appropriate to ask to modify child custody. These may include:

  • If domestic violence is suspected at one of the parents’ houses
  • If your child has stated that they no longer want to be with or live with the other parent
  • The physical relocation of a parent that negatively impacts the custody schedule
  • If the other parent is ignoring the custody schedule currently in place
  • Situations involving job loss

Usually, the court will hear requests for child custody modifications if they are based on issues that have to be addressed. For example, if your job suddenly changes and you need the other parent to take on more custody time, the court may agree to modify the schedule to reflect those changes. If you just decide to ask to change the schedule because you want to but there’s no issue with the current schedule, the judge is less likely to look at that request.

It’s normal to need to make custody modifications, but many parents are able to negotiate changes outside of court. If you can do that, you can submit your request with the new, agreed-upon schedule listed. Doing that will make it easier for you to get the new schedule approved. If you need help working out a new schedule, you may want to consider negotiating with the help of an attorney or working through mediation or other options to find a schedule that will work well for you and your ex.