Key Factors Courts Consider When Modifying Custody Orders

When parents separate, effective co-parenting helps to ensure children establish and maintain healthy bonds with both parents. Even with the most carefully crafted parenting plan, life circumstances can create a necessity to change the existing child custody agreement. The first step any parent looking to modify their custody agreement should take is to contact the other parent and propose a change. From here, they can submit the agreed change for legal approval or attend court if both parties cannot agree. Explore the factors courts consider when modifying custody orders.

Do Both Parents Agree to the Proposal?

Before submitting a request to alter custody orders with the Court, it is required that the parent requesting the change reaches out to the other parent. By communicating before going to a judge, you may be able to come to an agreement, which can help shorten the time you spend in court.

If you suspect your child is in a dangerous environment, telling the other party about your suspicions may not be ideal. Instead, work with a custody modification attorney to discuss your options to prove this claim and modify the custody orders.

Regardless of the reason, it’s best to work with a legal professional when filing a motion. These legal documents should outline your request for change and its cause. During review, a judge will ensure the individual who filed the case properly served the other party.

Why Is the Parent Requesting a Modification?

When reviewing a Modification of Child Custody Case, judges will evaluate its reason. Colorado courts are less likely to alter agreements for frivolous reasons but often will if the change will enhance the child’s life.

Some common reasons for requesting a modification include:

  • Relocation of a parent
  • Addressing specific medical conditions
  • Violations of existing orders
  • Protection of the child
  • The child’s best interest changes

While these are not the only reasons you can file a request, they are among the most common. We’ve further detailed each to help you better understand.

Relocation of a Parent

Moving is rarely easy, and co-parenting can add a layer of complexity to that process. A long-distance move, such as relocating to a different state, requires a new co-parenting plan. Begin by notifying your ex-partner about the move and your proposed change to the existing custody agreement. If the other party rejects the proposal for modification, you two must go to court; you cannot likely move without legally altering the current child custody agreement.

Addressing Specific Medical Conditions

If a parent develops a physical or mental medical condition that makes them unable to care for their child, the custody plan may need to change. The child’s well-being always comes first, so if a specific diagnosis prevents a parent from providing essential care, they must reach out to their co-parent to discuss altering their agreement.

Courts may also modify custody to address a child’s medical issues. One parent may be more capable of administering treatment to the child, live closer to the hospital, or have better access to essential care.

Keep in mind that judges do not remove children from a loving home solely because a parent’s medical history changes so long as the child remains safe there. Courts may modify specific details of the parenting agreement to ensure the child can continue bonding with both parents, as the requested changes must correlate to the issues raised as the reason for modification.

A Parent Violates the Existing Order

Parental alienation or the refusal to abide by parenting duties is unacceptable behavior. These behaviors can negatively impact a child, and they go against what the judge ruled. Repeatedly neglecting child support payments or refusing to care for a child can lead to one partner filing a motion for a modification in custody orders. Additionally, these violations can leave the guilty party with Contempt of the Court charges, varying from fines to jail time depending on the level of defiance.

Protection of the Child

If you suspect your child is in physical, mental, or emotional danger with the other parent, contact the proper authorities and a family law attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will help you gather the needed evidence to submit the case. Courts take neglect and abuse claims seriously, so working with an attorney from the start secures you with everything necessary to keep your child safe. If you have sincere concerns or fear for the safety of the child, contact 9-1-1 or the appropriate local authorities.

Pro Tip

You may also request a change in custody if you have proof the other party is currently struggling with substance abuse. Drug use can impair a parent’s ability and put a child in danger.

The Child’s Best Interest Changes

Although both parents may provide a safe environment for their children, a child may prefer spending more time with one parent. This situation becomes more common during the teenage years when children often enroll in extracurricular activities and have well-established friend groups.

Going back and forth between homes can make it harder for them to participate in those activities. To preserve the well-being of their child, both parents may agree to modify the existing custody agreement.

The Child’s Education

If both parents live within the boundaries of separate school districts, judges may review which household will provide the child with the best education while taking into account some social factors, including the child’s depth of involvement in their current schools’ extracurricular activities or sports.

How Will the Change Impact the Child?

One of the largest key factors courts consider when modifying custody orders is how that change will impact the child. Modification should only occur to keep your child safe and flourishing as they grow; it isn’t about getting revenge on an ex-partner.

The judge will review how the proposed change impacts the child’s life. The judge may reject the request if it hinders the bond between a parent and child without necessity. Generally, a trial only occurs if both parties cannot agree on modification outside of court.

The Child’s Best Interest Comes First

Colorado judges put the child first in all cases and closely review how a change will impact their well-being. Courts strive to preserve healthy bonds between parents and children whenever possible, which is crucial to the child’s development. Due to this, judges closely inspect how the change will alter a child’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

Usually, judges will review various factors when determining if the request for modification is optimal.

Hire an Attorney

Working with a family law lawyer is vital, whether you need to submit a request to modify custody or your ex-partner reaches out to you with a proposal. An expert in Colorado’s state laws can help you review the documents and prepare the appropriate response. Additionally, an attorney will help prepare you for court and work toward achieving your ideal outcome.

Jones Law Firm, PC, has family law attorneys in Colorado who can help you modify your existing custody case. We’ve served the state for over 20 years and have in-depth knowledge of divorce and child custody laws. Protect your rights with assistance from a team that prioritizes your best interest.

Key Factors Courts Consider When Modifying Custody Orders

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).