When the court enters a child custody order, it does so according to what it determines to be in the child’s best interest at the time of the trial. The custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interest can materially change. This could be due to material changes centered on the child’s need or changes primarily faced by the parents, like relocation, mental health and substance abuse issues.
If you wish to modify your child’s custody arrangement, under Virginia case law, you will have to prove to the court that there has been a material change in circumstances since the last custody order and that such material change warrants a modification of custody to serve the child’s best interest. Your Virginia lawyer can help you determine whether your change is material and if so, whether the material change warrants a change in custody to promote your child’s best interest. Whether a change is material is a subjective and within the Court’s discretion. What one judge finds material may be different than another judge. It is important to work closely with your lawyer to draft a pleading that identifies the material nature of the your change in a compelling manner to promote your chances of success in Court. Virginia courts tend to find the below changes to be material.
Relocation of a Parent
If you need to move to a new jurisdiction involuntarily or if the other parent has moved to a new jurisdiction, you may meet the material change standard to modify your child custody order to accommodate a move. If you are wishing to relocate voluntarily with the children, such as want to live in a different climate or because you crave a different lifestyle, the court probably will not approve your relocation with the children as it will interfere with the other parent’s relationship with your child. It is important to meet with a Virginia Family Lawyer to evaluate whether a Court may permit a relocation with a child. The Court cannot prohibit a parent from moving, but the Court can reduce a parent’s time as the result of the parent’s choice to relocate.
The Child’s Needs and Relationships have Materially Changed
As children grow, their emotional and developmental needs can materially change. Relationships between parents and children can materially change as well. Your child might develop special needs and require less transitions in a custodial schedule. This could mean having to change your existing child custody schedule to accommodate the child’s special needs.
One Parent’s Lifestyle is a Potential Hazard to the Child
You might need to change your child’s custody order if your former partner or another person in his or her household becomes a danger to your child. Substance addiction, domestic violence, involvement in criminal activity, or simply poor living conditions can all pose a risk to your child’s well being.
Work with an Experienced Vienna Family Lawyer
If you wish to modify your existing child custody order, work with an experienced Virginia family lawyer. To get started with our firm, contact Roop Xanttopoulos Babounakis PLLC today to schedule your initial legal consultation in our office.