What Do You File to Modify Child Custody?
Situations may arise after a court order has been issued, forcing you to seek a modification for a child custody order. If you have legitimate reasons to change or modify child custody, the place to start is to file a petition for child custody modification with the court. Generally, the petition should be filed in the county where the other parent lives.
Child custody modification cases can sometimes be marked with complexities that you may not be able to navigate on your own. An example of a situation that can complicate the issue is if the other parent has relocated since you filed the original order. Consult family law attorneys in Alpharetta for guidance on what you can do to make your application successful.
What Are the Requirements for Applying for Child Custody Modification in Georgia?
Applying for child custody modification is a two-step process that requires you to do the following:
- Prove to the court a substantial change of circumstances that affects the child’s welfare. The change of circumstances must be shown with new evidence occurring since the previous custody award.
- Show that the modification is in your child’s best interests.
Substantial Change of Circumstances
While there is no specific definition of a substantial change of circumstances in child custody modification, the following events could make a court grant your modification request:
- A loss of employment that significantly affects a parent’s finances
- Starting a career in a different location or which affects a parent’s working hours
- Relocation of the parents or children
- A change in the wishes of the child
- If the custodial parent constantly interferes with the non-custodial parent’s visitation schedule
- One party is charged with some form of familial abuse
- The child is older than when the court made the initial custody order
- The custodial parent has started living with someone else who has a prior criminal record
- Death of either party
Before filing a child modification petition with the court, consult custody modification lawyers in Alpharetta. Circumstances vary from one case to another, and the lawyers would be in the best position to determine if your situation would make you qualify for the modification.
Other Examples of Substantial Change of Circumstances Affecting the Child
A Georgia court found the following change of circumstances affecting the welfare of the child and hence necessitating modification of the custody order:
- Abandonment of the child with the custodial parent’s parents by the custodial parent
- Forging a court order to abscond with the child
- A child residing with a non-custodial parent for three years and performing well in school than when living with a custodial parent.
Courts grant child custody modification requests on a case-by-case basis. It would therefore help to have Alpharetta child custody modification attorneys evaluate your circumstances to determine your eligibility for modification.
Determining the Child’s Best Interests
After reviewing the change in circumstances, the judge will determine if the modification is in the child’s best interests. A few factors the court may consider are:
- The parent who provides the most care for the child
- The parent who is most closely bonded with the child
- The parent who lives in the best school district
- The behavior of the parents toward each other and the child
- The most supportive and nurturing parent
- The parent who is better able to provide for the child’s needs
Having Alpharetta custody modification lawyers by your side works to your advantage. They can put their skills and knowledge of family law to work to show how you’re best suited to uphold your child’s best interests when fighting to have custody of your child.
Can I Modify Visitation or Parenting Time in Georgia?
Georgia child custody modification laws show a difference in requirements when you may request a change in visitation or parenting time to the initial child custody order. The custody order reflects the physical and legal custody of the child for each parent and also outlines parenting time.
The parenting time is a plan outlining how the custodial parent must share physical custody with the non-custodial parent. You can request the court to modify the parenting or visitation time once every two years after the initial custody order.
When you request a visitation modification, you’re not required to demonstrate a change in circumstances. Skilled custody modification attorneys in Alpharetta can guide you through the process.
How Soon Can You Modify a Child Custody Order in Georgia?
There is no time restraint regarding how soon you can modify a child custody order in Georgia. You can file a petition as soon as a material change of circumstances affects the child’s welfare. If the material change is an emergency, you can file an emergency petition for custody modification.
Additionally, there is no limit to how often you can modify the child custody order. Material changes in circumstances affecting the child’s well-being are reason enough to request a modification at any time.
Can I Modify a Parenting Plan without Going to Court in Georgia?
You and your child’s other parent can agree to make informal changes to the court-ordered parenting plan. Judges prefer for couples to decide on their parenting plan. However, the court may need to review the agreement to ensure it’s in the child’s best interests and to make it enforceable.
It’s strongly advisable to get the help of experienced family law attorneys in Alpharetta. Their input can ensure that the court will likely accept your new parenting plan if you wish to modify it legally.
A Legal Professional in Georgia Helping You Protect Your Child’s Well-being
Courts often issue child custody and visitation orders in the child’s best interests. However, circumstances may later arise that affect the child’s welfare, making it necessary to modify the order.
Consider filing a petition to legally enforce the changes if you’re in a situation that necessitates modifying your child custody order. Georgia child custody modification attorneys can help you.
Our law firm provides legal counsel and representation for parents with child custody, parenting, and modification cases. We work hard to ensure the child’s best interests are upheld while guiding the parents to make the right decision. Talk to us today if you have questions about child custody or the modification process.