Most Alabama residents regard the judge’s signature on their divorce decree as the conclusion of a long and torturous trip. But life is uncertain, and even the most carefully crafted order for child custody may require revision if the circumstances of the parents or the child undergo substantial changes.
Either parent can seek a modification of an order for child custody by filing a motion with the district court that has jurisdiction over the case. If the other parent agrees to the change, there’s usually no problem, but if the parties cannot resolve their differences on their own, they must take the dispute to court. A district court judge will render a written decision.
The parent’s motion must be in writing and filed according to the regulations promulgated by the court.
The party seeking modification must demonstrate that the circumstances of one of the parents or the child have undergone substantial change since the current order was issued. Such a change might involve a change of employment or an unexpected illness.
The evidence must be presented to the judge, and supported by documents and/or witnesses who can testify about the facts.
The best interests of the child
As in any matter involving child custody, the court must be guided by the standard known as “the best interest of the child.”
To determine the child’s best interests, the court considers the child’s relationship with each patent, the child’s situation in school, the child’s relationship with friends and other relatives, and other factors.
This standard is flexible, and in the end, the court is empowered to consider any factor that the judge deems relevant to deciding the motion.
A motion to modify a custody order may not be easy to win. The parent must present the evidence persuasively, and cite any relevant case law to the judge. It is wise to seek out assistance from professionals who are trained and experienced.
Still, modifying a child custody order is sometimes necessary in order to allow one party to be a better parent.