Are you seeking a child custody modification? There are many reasons to update child custody after the initial court order is in place.
You may have a safety or financial concern, or you believe the custodial parent can no longer care for the child adequately. Perhaps the other parent is about to move out of state, and you’d like to petition the court for a change in custody.
Keep in mind that there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. There can be joint legal custody even if the child spends all their time in the physical custody of just one parent.
This article outlines common reasons for child custody modifications and explains the basics of modifying an existing custody arrangement in Indiana. For more details about your specific situation, contact Zentz & Roberts for a consultation.
Health and Safety Concerns
Take action if you’re concerned about your child’s safety and well-being. In cases with a suspected threat to health or safety, adjusting the parenting time isn’t enough, and a custody modification may be needed to protect the child.
Another health-related concern could be a parent’s worsening physical or mental health. When the custodial parent becomes so ill or incapacitated that they can’t care for the child appropriately, a non-custodial parent may request a modification to child custody.
Child Abuse or Neglect
A child is unsafe with a parent who abuses or neglects them. Physical or mental abuse allegations need an investigation and may impact child custody modification.
The court can change custody in confirmed domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect cases. These allegations should not be made lightly, and a conviction may preclude a parent from obtaining full or partial custody.
Change in Financial or Housing Status
Has there been a change in the financial or housing stability of the custodial parent? Job loss, eviction, or significant financial instability can be a reason to change a child custody arrangement.
Drug or Alcohol Use
Abuse of street drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, or other substances can be a cause for custody modification. Children are at greater risk of injury and death when they’re with a parent who is intoxicated. The courts may modify child custody to minimize potential harm.
Arrest or Conviction
A parent or custodian’s arrest or conviction can be a cause for child custody modification. If the parent can quickly bond out and continue caring for the child normally, their arrest may not warrant a modification
Continued incarceration calls for an emergency custody modification order due to the custodial parent’s inability to be physically present for their child. Depending on the type of conviction, the cause of the incarceration itself may be a reason to modify child custody, as in cases of violent crime or drunk driving.
After a divorce or after a child custody arrangement is already in place, a parent’s location of residence could change. Relocation of the custodial parent may call for a reevaluation and child custody modification depending on the details of the situation.
In Indiana, if a child is at least 14 years of age, their wishes are given more weight during a child custody hearing. However, this is not the sole factor in changing custody, and a judge typically also considers other factors like the wishes of the parents, the interactions within the family, the child’s mental and physical well-being, and relevant evidence impacting the child’s situation.
How Do I Modify a Custody Agreement?
Under Indiana Code 31-17-2-21, a court will only modify a child custody order when it is in the best interests of the child and there has been a substantial change in one of the factors the court may consider when issuing an initial custody order. If you want to modify custody, it helps to have a mutual agreement with the child’s other parent or legal custodian. Absent an agreement, the parties will be required to appear in court to present their arguments for or against a modification.
Seeking Child Custody Modification? Contact Us Today
When you need help understanding a child custody modification or want more information about how to modify a custody agreement, our Indiana family law attorneys can help. Contact our team at Zentz & Roberts for a free consultation by visiting us online or calling us at 317-220-6056.
***Please note: This page is not intended to give specific legal advice but is meant for information purposes only. Contact us to discuss your case***