Generally, parties to a dissolution or paternity action never want to go back to court, but sometimes circumstances will change which compel a parent to seek a modification of custody. A parent seeking to change custody must show that since the last order on custody was entered there has been a substantial and material change in circumstance; the change must be more or less permeant and could not have been within the court’s contemplation when the decree was entered. The change in circumstances must relate to the welfare of the child(ren) and indicate that it would not be in the best interests of the child(ren) to continue the current custodial arrangement.
Not all changes in circumstances are sufficient; generally, Judges are reluctant to modify the custodial provision of a decree absent cogent and compelling reasons. While each case is different examples of substantial and material changes could include:
- Denial of visitation or efforts to undermine one parents relationship with the child.
- Change in the child’s residence that would make it unnecessarily difficult for the child to maintain a relationship with both parents.
- A continued inability and unwillingness of a parent to corporate with the other parent.
- A parent starting a new relationship with a person who is not appropriate.
In addition to showing a change in circumstances, if one parent has been designated the child’s primary care giver, the other parent must demonstrate they can provide superior care for the child(ren). It not enough to be as good, the movant parent needs to be better. The attorneys at Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fisher & Bouslog, P.C. are experienced in handling complex child custody matters. We understand the unique challenges and changed circumstances that can arise after a child custody order is finalized. Contact us at (515) 288-5000 to discuss your case with our firm.
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