We warned in Changing Child Custody that it was hard to know in a close case whether a material change in circumstances would warrant a change in child custody until the judge decides. This post reviews changes not material enough to modify custody.
In Changes in Circumstances Mean Changes in Custody we provided a list of changes compiled over the years that were “material” enough to result in a change in the custody agreement or order. The list included “A combination of changes over the years that make the current custody arrangement unworkable, difficult or very much less than ideal.”
A recent Virginia case, Friedichs v. Brown, highlights the problem. Mr. Fredrichs argued that the following changes in circumstances warranted a change in custody:
(1) the children’s development had evolved,
(2) the children had a closer relationship with him, and
(3) the mother was being uncooperative.
The circuit court ruled that these were not material changes, dismissed his complaint, and awarded the mother $43,462.20 for the attorney’s fees she incurred defending. The Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed.