In part three of our three-part exploration of child custody modifications, we will look at the changing needs of the child. Of course, the needs of the child are the most important consideration in custody modifications, but most modification petitions are a result of something changing with the parents (changes in living arrangements, changes in a parent’s ability to care for a child, relocations, etc.).
However, there are custody modification situations stemming from a significant change in the child’s circumstances. Similar to the other modification situations, it is important to know the laws and processes involved in Georgia.
Change in the Child’s Circumstances
Georgia’s standard for a custody modification petition are meant to be open-ended: a substantial change in circumstance. Any change that substantially impacts a family’s ability to care for the child under their current custody arrangement can potentially justify a modification.
In theory, these changes can come from anywhere, including the lives of the children themselves.
Substantial changes in a child’s circumstances can involve:
- A change in health status: Serious injuries or illnesses can change the degree of attention a child requires. In many cases, one of the parents is better-positioned to care for the child’s needs than the other, justifying a petition for modification.
- A change in psychological status and other special needs: Similar to the health issue, many children develop depression or other psychological issues, and a change in physical custody can provide the child with the best possible parental care. Other related special needs can include learning disabilities that suggest a change in school zones with more appropriate resources.
- Problems at school and in the neighborhood: In some cases, a child is bullied at school, struggles academically in a specific school or has other related issues that could be resolved by a simple change in geography.
These are just a few examples of changes in a child’s life that could justify a custody modification. One or both of the parents or the child can petition for this modification.
If your child has experienced significant change or issues that would justify a custody modification, the first step is to talk with an experienced attorney. The assistance of legal counsel is the best way to protect your child’s interests and your entire family through the modification process.