Court decisions are rarely permanent when it comes to family issues, and custody falls under this category. Whether you are a parent who wants to modify the parenting plan or you are the parent who wishes for it to remain the same, there are some basics that you should understand when it comes to petitioning the court for a modification, or fighting against a change. Our Maryland family law attorneys can help you understand your current situation, and will help you fight for your and your child’s best interests in mediation and in the courtroom if necessary.
Why Should the Custody Order be Changed?
The parent who wishes for a custody order to be modified must show the court why a change is necessary. This burden falls on those shoulders because, according to the People’s Law Library of Maryland, the court essentially follows the golden rule of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Stability is a key factor in a child’s well-being, especially in a separated family where stability may have been something that was lacking in the past. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), safety, stability, and nurturing are the three essential elements for proper child development. Children without stability often suffer from learning disabilities, poor physical and psychological development, and other emotional problems. However, this element of stability could, in fact, be used as an argument for the parent who wants to modify the custody order. Maybe the current situation does not provide for stability, and the only remedy for this is to modify the parenting plan. It is up to the parent who wants the modification to show that there is something harmful or not in the child’s best interest in the prevailing custody arrangement and, because the court made the original decision in the child’s best interest, that parent must prove to the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
Substantial and Permanent Changes
Custody and visitation orders can be changed under the following situations:
- The parent with custody has a drinking or drug addiction;
- The parent with custody has failed to take care of the child, such as by providing food, proper shelter, or supervision;
- The parent seeking a modification has changed for the better, for example s/he has a steady job, a safe and stable place to live, and/or s/he has brought an addiction under control;
- The child wants to have visitation with a parent that was denied visitation; and
- Other situations.
Children 16 years old or older can petition for a custody modification themselves, though the burden falls upon them to explain to the court why the modification is necessary.
Call Maryland Family Law Attorney Tara K. Frame
Whether you want the current parenting plan to remain the same or you want it to be modified, you need an attorney. The Pasadena family law attorneys of Frame & Frame assist parents with custody modification and have the experience to help you accomplish your goals. Call us today at 410-255-0373.