As a step parent adoption lawyer, like one from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, child custody arrangements can change depending on circumstances. If you or your ex-spouse want to apply for a child custody modification without the other’s consent, you both might wonder whether it is a legal course of action. Can the court change the custody agreement without the consent of both parents?
Do Both Parties Have to Agree for a Modification to Take Place?
The short answer is no, both parties do not need to agree. Having the consent of both parents can make the modification process run more smoothly, but having both parties in complete agreement is not a requirement. If one parent requests a change to the child custody arrangements and the judge finds the reasoning to be in the child’s best interests, then a modification can take place without the other parent’s consent.
What Are the Reasons a Judge Can Order a Custody Modification?
When a judge receives a request for a child custody modification, they will take a few factors into account to determine what is best for the child’s welfare.
Was the Original Agreement Recent or a Long Time Ago?
They will consider the length of time since the first custody agreement. Generally a parent must go through a waiting period of one to two years since the original custody agreement before they can file for a modification. Alternatively, if the original custody agreement was made some time ago, the child’s needs may have changed in the passing years.
The parent’s situation over the years is also taken into account. If a parent has relocated, lost their job, become very ill, or gone through some other substantial change, a custody modification may be in order.
Is the Other Parent Fit?
If one parent is not honoring the custody terms, it is a valid reason for a judge to grant modification. Since the original custody arrangement was made with the child’s best interests and welfare in mind, a parent who disregards these rules is, in a sense, also disregarding what is best for the child.
Custody can also be modified if the one parent is unfit, drinks excessively or uses drugs, physically, mentally, or emotionally abuses the child, or places the child in danger in any way. Child endangerment is a very cogent reason to alter the custody arrangements.
Both parties do not need to agree for a custody modification to take place. If you feel that it is in your child’s best interests to file for a custody modification, contact a child custody lawyer who can walk you through the process.