When to Ask for a Change of Custody

Any parent can tell you that the only constant about children is that they change every day.  Parenting a child from two different households presents even more complications, as the two Child Custodyparents must adapt to the child’s changes and needs from two different environments.  If you have a custody order in place dictating your custody and visitation issues, you may have thought about if it is time to change the custody order in light of your child’s changing needs.

Child custody and visitation orders cannot be changed just because you have changed your mind about what you believe is best for your child.  In Minnesota, you must usually wait at least one year from the entry of the previous order to bring an action to modify your custody order.  You can bring a request to modify your current order if you can present evidence of physical or emotional abuse.  Another reason to change your order before the year is up is if the other parent is willfully and consistently interfering with your parenting time.

When you are ready to modify your custody order, you will need to prove there has been a significant change in circumstances since the entry of the previous order.  You will need to show that this change occurred since the entry of the most recent custody order.  In other words, events that occurred before the previous order will likely not be relevant or admissible to modify the current order.  If you can demonstrate a change in circumstances, you will also have to prove that the modification you propose is in the child’s best interest.

There are some common circumstances during which a parent will request a modification.  One of the most common is when the custodial parent wants to move out-of-state.  If the custodial parent is requesting to move a substantial distance away, it is common to request a modification of custody to ask the child remain in the current jurisdiction, or at the very least visitation be modified to provide the non-custodial parent with a different visitation schedule.  Another common reason is when one parent is consistently late for visitation exchanges or even refuses to exchange the child at all.  Interfering with another parent’s time with a child is a very common way for a court to modify an existing order to make sure the offending parent has less discretion or even loses custody completely.

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