Divorce is emotionally stressful and can become complicated, especially with issues involving children. The law recognizes that both parents have rights and responsibilities with respect to the children. Arrangements need to be made to allow both parents to exercise those rights as, living separately, they will not be able to continue parenting as they once did.
As children grow older, their needs and interests often change and child custody and visitation arrangements may need to be modified. Modification of child custody can be more difficult than obtaining custody and must be formally requested from the court as a Motion to Modify Custody. Even if both parents agree on the modification, the court must approve any changes. If the parents do not agree at all on custody and/or visitation specifics, the court will make the decisions based on the best interests of the child which are found in Ohio Revised Code 3109 (F)(4).
What Parents Seeking Modification Must Show
The parent seeking modification of child custody must demonstrate a change in circumstances from the original child custody decree and must prove that a significant change in circumstance warrants the modification. The parent seeking the modification(s) must show the proposed change(s) in custody would be more beneficial to the child than harmful.
The basis for Child Custody Modification
In reaching a decision about a ‘material’ change in circumstances, family court judges consider the following list of factors:
- Changes in the parents’ work schedules
- Changes in the parents’ addresses
- The preference of the child (if the child is old enough to voice a preference)
- Criminal conviction or incarceration of one of the parents
- A parent’s desire to move out of state or far away from their current address
- The irresponsibility of one parent (drug or substance abuse, financial irresponsibility, unstable relationships, etc.)
Can an Attorney Help With Child Custody Modifications?
Judges have significant discretion when deciding whether to modify an existing child custody order. If you are involved in a dispute regarding an existing order, it is important to retain legal counsel whether you are the party trying to modify the order or the party opposed to the modification.
A lawyer from the law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP has the experience and compassionate concern to help you in seeking a custody modification or having one denied. Ways in which a family law lawyer can help include:
- Evaluating the case and determining whether circumstances have changed enough to seek a modification order
- Gathering evidence in support of the position whether it be for or against the proposed modification
- Attempting to negotiate a settlement of the matter out-of-court with the child’s other parent
- Communicating with the other parent or his or her attorney
- Representing the client in court and presenting evidence in support of their position
- Filing an appeal if there is an adverse outcome
It is important that you consult with an attorney as soon as you learn of a proposed modification to the custody order or decide to propose one yourself, especially if you think there will be opposition to it. Call Slater & Zurz at 330.762.0700 for advice on how to proceed. You can also contact the law firm through their website at slaterzurz.com or chat with a representative available on the website 24/7/365.