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When is a child custody modification appropriate?

When determining child custody arrangements in divorce, the court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests. But while your initial custody agreement may have worked for a while, it’s not uncommon for Oklahoma parents to request a child custody modification when circumstances change.

Unless your child is in immediate danger, a judge will likely only approve a post-decree child custody modification when changes in a parent’s life affect their parenting abilities or the child’s schedule. Below are three common instances in which a child custody modification may be the best option.

1. Relocation

If one parent is considering moving to a distant location, it can make your existing custody arrangement impossible to maintain. If you or your ex relocate, a judge will consider the following before approving a new modification request:

  • What is the motivation of the parent who is moving?
  • Will a modification interrupt the child’s life?
  • Will the move make the current visitation schedule impractical?
  • Can the parents work together for visitation after the move?

2. Schedule changes

Sometimes visitation agreements need to be tweaked due to schedule changes in the parent’s or child’s life. For example, if you or your ex start a new job with a different schedule or your child begins to participate in after-school activities, a modification may be necessary. However, a judge will still evaluate whether the amendment is in the child’s best interests and cause as little disruption as possible to their lives.

3. An Uncooperative parent 

If one parent isn’t holding up their end of the custody agreement, a custody modification will likely be necessary. Custody orders are legally enforceable. If the other parent refuses to let you spend time with your child, frequently reschedules, or doesn’t show up, an experienced family law attorney can help you develop a new custody agreement and assert your parenting rights.

If your original custody agreement is no longer working for your family, it may be time for alterations. If possible, reaching a mutual agreement for your new visitation schedule with your ex before going to a judge can help the process go smoother.