child custody modification

Child Custody Modification 

Modifying a child custody order is an emotionally charged process but can be easier with a child custody modification attorney. As a caring parent, you want to ensure your child receives the best possible care. However, requesting modifications to existing custody orders can destabilize children’s lives if not handled properly. Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C. understands these dilemmas and provides compassionate guidance advocating for your child’s best interests. We know that custody issues feel urgent and personal and we listen carefully to develop thoughtful legal strategies seeking favorable custody modifications. By balancing assertive representation with sensible negotiations, we strive to secure optimal outcomes benefitting your child’s wellbeing. 

As your trusted partner, Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C. will handle modification procedures with discretion, aiming to minimize conflict. Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C., a child custody modification attorney, strives to provide the insightful counsel and steadfast support you deserve during custody disputes. Please contact us at (317) 298-2525 to learn more about securing your child’s future through a child custody modification action.

What Is a Modification of an Existing Child Custody Order?

child custody When parents get divorced or a paternity order is issued after a hearing, the court decides custody for the children. In sum, custody means who the children will live with and who will make important decisions about things like medical care and education.        

Sometimes, the custody arrangement needs to change later on. This is called a custody modification. There are two main reasons parents might want a modification:

  1. If there has been a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the custodial parent plans to move far away or can no longer properly care for the children.
  2. If the current custody arrangement is not working and is not in the children’s best interests. For instance, if the children are struggling emotionally or doing poorly in school under the current order.

To obtain a child custody modification order, the parent has to file legal paperwork explaining why the change is necessary. They need solid reasons and evidence to show the court. The other parent can agree to the modification or contest it. If they contest it, there will be a court hearing where a judge listens to both sides before making a decision.

Modifying custody is not easy because courts want arrangements to stay stable for children. But sometimes changes are needed for the children’s health and well-being. Working with a child custody modification attorney is important in order to build a strong case and navigate the process.

How Is a Substantial Change Defined?

child custody According to Indiana law, you can request a child custody modification if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” But it may be difficult for the court to decide what constitutes a “substantial change” and deciding when to move forward with a modification case is first, a personal decision. 

Some situations in which you may seek a custody modification include: 

  • Alleged physical or mental abuse 
  • Severe changes to the custodial parent’s financial circumstances 
  • Health issues for the parent or child
  • An unsafe home environment 
  • Relocation of the custodial parent
  • The custodial parent is arrested, especially if the child was present 
  • The custodial parent has mental health or substance abuse issues
  • A parent is exhibiting a specific behavioral pattern, such as denying or interfering with the other’s time with their child

What Should I Consider Before I Ask for a Child Custody Modification?

child custodyThe court doesn’t readily agree to child custody modifications because it prefers for custodial arrangements to be consistent. Therefore, before you request a modification, consider whether it improves your child’s life substantially enough to justify the potential emotional and destabilizing effect. 

There are a few important things you should think about before requesting a change to your child custody order:

  1. Is this best for my child? Make sure the reason you want a modification is that it would improve your child’s life in a major way. Changes can be hard on children, even when positive overall.
  2. Do I have strong evidence? You need evidence to show the court that modification is necessary. Evidence may include records, witnesses to problems, etc. Evidence is key.
  3. Am I prepared if the other parent contests? If they don’t agree to the change and if mediation is unsuccessful, a hearing will be held. Emotions and tensions may be high. Mentally prepare for a difficult process. 
  4. Can I afford legal fees? Contested child custody cases often have substantial legal costs over time. Factor finances into your decision-making. 
  5. What schedule change works best? Think through specifics – will you request primary custody or just more parenting time? Ensure your request is reasonable.

Considering these questions helps ensure modification is the necessary and wise choice before proceeding. The well-being of your child always comes first.

child custody

Common Issues When Modifying Custody

Child custody orders can be complex. It often takes a great deal of time to get all of the issues resolved and for everyone to understand all of the order’s provisions.

Here are some common issues that can come up when modifying child custody:

  1. Disagreements over parenting time and visitation schedules. For example, the parent seeking more custody may request too much or too little time with the child in the eyes of the court. Striking the right balance is important.
  2. Determining if there has been a “substantial change” to warrant modification. The court has a high bar for what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances. Meeting this legal standard can be difficult.
  3. Managing child support payment adjustments. A change in custody often necessitates recalculating appropriate child support based on factors like parenting time and income changes.
  4. Tax and other financial implications. There may be complex tax exemption and deduction issues to work through. Health insurance, childcare costs and more may shift as well.
  5. Logistics like transportation, school enrollment, activities, and medical care. The logistics surrounding a child’s schedule and care can require significant reworking after custody changes. 
  6. Emotional impact on the child with changing arrangements. Courts will consider potential disruption or instability for the child as they assess proposed modifications. Minimizing disruption is ideal.
  7. Disagreements over legal vs. physical custody. Sometimes parents agree to change one aspect of custody but not the other.

Navigating these common issues smoothly is critical for approval of a proposed child custody modification. 

What Happens if My Former Partner Won’t Agree to the Modification?

child custody If the other parent does not consent to your requested child custody modification in Indiana, the court will schedule a hearing to resolve the issue. At the hearing, both you and the other parent will have the chance to present evidence and arguments supporting your respective positions on the proposed changes. Issues each side may address include questions of child safety, care arrangements, schedules, and the child’s overall well-being and best interests. 

The court will take all evidence and testimony presented by both parties at the hearing into consideration when making a final ruling on the child custody modification petition. The court’s decision comes down to what is determined to be in the best interest of the child. Even if you and the other parent don’t agree to going into court, the judge’s ruling after hearing both sides is legally binding. 

What Are the Steps to a Child Custody Modification?

child custody If you need to modify an existing child custody order in Indiana, there is a process you must follow:

  1. File the petition 
  2. Notify the other parent as requested by Trial Rules
  3. Attend mediation, if required
  4. Court hearing
  5. New court order issued

If the judge approves a modification, then after the hearing, the court will issue a new child custody order reflecting the changes. All parties must follow this updated order.

How Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C., Your Family Law Attorney Can Help

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C., a child custody modification attorney, understands that anything related to your child’s well-being is emotional and urgent. Child custody modification hearings can be contentious. We provide compassionate, personal representation for custody modification cases. We are committed to advocating tirelessly for you to ensure your child receives the best care possible. Let us know how we can help online or give us a call at 317-298-2525