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Modifying or Amending Child Custody Orders 

Experienced Lawyer

As a child custody lawyer might explain to you, once a court order or decision has been made regarding the custody of a child, it is preferred that it remains the same. However, it some cases, these arrangements are no longer practical. In this situation, it may be possible to ask the judge to amend or modify the orders. Before you can do this, certain procedures must be filed. In general, it will help to have a child custody lawyer on your side. 

Modifying Child Visitation

When one or both parents cannot reach an agreement regarding child custody and visitation, it will be up to the judge to order an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. As a child custody lawyer, like a child custody lawyer in Fairfax, VA,  might explain to you, there are two types of custody:

  • Legal Custody – This includes the right to make decisions for the child. These decisions may include education, religion, upbringing, healthcare, and more. It is possible for both parents to have legal custody of the child. 
  • Physical Custody – This refers to the time spent with the child. In general, one parent will have physical custody. This parent will also be responsible for the main decisions and daily care of the child. 

Another form of custody is joint custody. As a child custody lawyer may tell you, this can be awarded by the courts, but is not always divided equally. For example, one parent may have the child on weekdays and the other parent may have the child on the weekends. 

In any case, once an order has been legally issued, both parents must agree to follow the terms. It is common for these terms to eventually not suit one or both parents, or even the child. For instance, as a child grows older, they may wish for something different. Or, one parent might be offered a job across the country. In both scenarios, a new agreement may need to be reached. 

Modifying Court Agreements

It is possible to change a child custody agreement. To do this, you or your child custody lawyer must file a petition with the family court. In general, a modification will be accepted when:

  • The court approves the modification request, or
  • Both parents are in agreeance to modify the request

In general, a modification is granted only when at least one of the following applies:

  • One parent has been offered a new job or a relocation
  • There are signs of domestic violence or abuse
  • One parent has been incarcerated
  • The needs or wishes of the child has changed
  • There are concerns about the child’s well being or stability in the home
  • The agreement has been violated or breached by one parent

It should be noted that each state has their own requirements to modify an agreement. Furthermore, it may take time before any modification can be put into place.These can be further explained by a child custody lawyer. If you suspect abuse is happening in the home, please call a child custody lawyer to explore your immediate legal options. 



Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into child custody rules. 

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