In an ideal world, a custody agreement would last throughout your child’s minority. However, life changes, sometimes naturally over time and other times unexpectedly. When it does, it may be necessary to revise a custody order to better meet your child’s needs.
If you or your child’s circumstances require a different custody schedule, you could benefit by speaking with a seasoned Hamilton County custody modification lawyer. Our knowledgeable team of child custody attorneys offers sound legal advice to parents wanting to learn more about the legal requirements for changing custody and parenting plans.
State law requires parents to prove that there has been a material change in circumstances since the current custody order was issued. Additionally, the parent seeking to revise custody must demonstrate that they did not know or anticipate the change at the time of the prior order. In other words, a parent cannot petition to change a custody agreement and then create circumstances to support their request.
Once the parent seeking to modify custody proves the material change in circumstances, a judge must then decide whether the proposed custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. Under Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-106, a court can consider numerous factors when determining best interests. Some of these include:
Generally, a judge will attempt to maintain a child’s stability when determining a custody modification request. For example, if one parent wants to relocate out of state, the court may favor leaving the child with the parent who continues to reside close to the child’s school, friends, and extended family. The law is clear that no one factor is presumed to be more significant than the other.
Instead, judges have broad authority to determine what weight to give each. A parent in Hamilton County considering a child custody modification is well-advised to discuss each of these factors and how a judge might apply them with an experienced lawyer.
While day-to-day life always brings about a certain amount of change, the threshold for a “material change in circumstances” warranting a custody modification is high. Courts do not want to encourage parents to relitigate custody every time they experience a minor shift in their lives.
As such, the change must genuinely and substantially impact the child’s overall health and well-being, including circumstances such as:
Many other circumstances could substantially impact a child. A knowledgeable attorney in Hamilton County could assess a case and determine whether the changes to the child custody agreement are sufficient to meet the state’s legal standard for a modification.
While the intent of a child custody order is to meet the child’s needs until they reach adulthood, circumstances often change. As such, child custody is always modifiable to ensure that a child’s needs continue to be met under the existing custody arrangement.
To discuss how to change a custody order that may no longer serve your child’s best interests, reach out to a capable Hamilton County child custody modification lawyer today. Our experienced team could work with you to reach a favorable outcome based on your unique circumstances.