One of the most difficult parts of any divorce or separation is child custody. No parent wants to think about not being with their children, but this is a challenge a couple parting ways must face. At the time of the divorce or separation, a family court judge will decide how to split the children’s time between the two parents. The judge may choose to award primary custody to one parent with the other parent allowed visitation or scheduled overnight visits; Joint custody awarded to both parents, with the children splitting their time evenly between the two; or, Sole custody awarded to one parent, with the other parent having no visitation rights at all.
There are many factors that the judge will consider when ruling on a child custody hearing. These factors may change at any time, justifying a review of the custody arrangement and possible modifications if it is in the children’s best interests. Just a few reasons a parent may wish to request a child custody modification include:
Both parents have agreed to a new custody arrangement.
If both parents agree on a modification in the custody arrangement, the court will usually grant it as long as it does not adversely affect the children. This may include changes in one parent’s work schedule or residence.
One of the parents has become a danger to the children.
Courts do not want children staying with a physically violent parent, so accusations of violence in child custody hearings are taken very seriously. Any documented history of violence from one parent towards the children or the other parent will likely spur the court to limit or eliminate the offending parent’s contact with the children. The court may deem cases of negligence against the children to be substantial enough to revoke custody or modify the arrangement.
It’s not just physical violence that can be dangerous to the children. A parent with a severe mental disability, especially those that affect the parent’s logic, reasoning, judgment, can be deemed substantial enough to modify custody as well. Drug addiction or severe alcoholism can also be reasons to deem a parent’s behavior as dangerous to the children.
In extreme cases, where both parents are deemed dangerous to the children, custody may be revoked from both parents and granted to a third party.
One parent moves the children out of state without notifying the other parent or court first.
Parents involved in child custody agreements must always notify the court and the other parent if they intend to change residence, especially out of state. If they don’t, the court can grant emergency custody to the other parent and force the children to move back until a permanent custody arrangement is made.
One parent consistently violates the agreed-upon custody arrangement.
The court expects both parents to adhere to the rules laid down in the child custody agreement. If one parent constantly defies the arrangement, the other parent can request a modification to ensure the children are not affected by the offending parent’s behavior.
Laws are not very specific, so Florida courts have a lot of wiggle room in deciding what changes are substantial enough to justify modifications to a child custody arrangement. This vagueness makes Florida’s child custody system especially difficult to navigate on your own. Call Caveda Law Firm at (813) 463-0800 if you are considering a child custody modification. Our award-winning child custody experts will fight to make sure your children’s best interests are at the center of any modification proceedings, giving you much-needed peace of mind.