Sometimes you don’t know whether a change in circumstances is material until after trial when the judge rules. Perhaps this will help. Here is a partial list, compiled from our cases over the years, of changed circumstances that courts have found, or both parents conceded, were material:
- One parent wants to relocate with the child.
- One parent is relocating without the child so the current timesharing or visitation schedule will not work.
- The parents share physical custody equally, live in different school districts and the child is nearing kindergarten age.
- One parent’s mental health has deteriorated
- Remarriage of one parent if it affects child-rearing.
- Substantial change in employment location/hours of work.
- A combination of changes over the years that make the current custody arrangement unworkable, difficult or very much less than ideal.
If one or more of these changes are present and the current custody arrangement is no longer in your child’s best interest, it is time to seek a change. Start by communicating this to the other parent and inviting feedback.
If you don’t make progress with direct discussions, consider suggesting that you and your former spouse work with a mediator skilled in child custody matters. Custody disputes are well suited for resolution through mediation. Also, look at the dispute resolution procedures, if any, in your custody agreement.
A good family lawyer or divorce attorney experienced in custody matters will be helpful to you throughout this process and will be essential if you bring your custody matter to the court for resolution.