Here’s what you need to know about custody modifications

Last updated on May 12, 2022

Your initial child custody dispute may have been hard-fought. But even after the matter is settled, you could find yourself asking whether the agreement that was reached with your child’s other parent, or that was ordered by the court, is still in your child’s best interests. If it’s not, you may need to think about pursuing a custody modification.

What circumstances warrant a modification?

Under Georgia law, custody can be modified when there has been a material change in circumstances and that change substantially affects the child’s best interests. In other words, there need to be new developments since the issuance of the initial custody order that have a significant impact on your child. Here are just a few of the circumstances that may justify seeking a custody modification:

  • Your child’s exposure to domestic violence, which can leave your child at risk of physical injury and psychological harm on account of excessive fear, worry and guilt.
  • Your child’s exposure to parental substance abuse and its corresponding increased risk of child neglect.
  • The other parent’s changed financial circumstances that may render them unable to adequately meet the child’s needs.
  • An increase in your child’s needs that are so great that the other parent is no longer able to meet them.
  • A significant change in the other parent’s physical or mental health, which affects the parent’s ability to adequately and safely care for the child.

Remember that these are just a few situations that may warrant a custody modification. If you think that changed circumstances in your situation are significant enough to warrant modification, you might want to discuss them with your attorney.

Gathering evidence for a motion to modify

If you think that there has been a material change in circumstances, you need to gather evidence to support your request for a custody modification. But how do you go about doing that? It really depends on the circumstances. However, you can start with the following:

  • Obtain police reports that may be indicative of violence or drug use in the other parent’s home.
  • Talk to witnesses who can attest to any concerns with the other parent and how your child responds while in the other parent’s care.
  • Subpoena relevant records from the other parent that speak to their financial standing.
  • Request a court order for the release of mental health records to better gauge the other parent’s current well-being.
  • Ask the court for a mental health evaluation of the other parent if that issue is in question and is tied to the other parent’s ability to care for the child.
  • Ask the court for a child custody evaluation, which should help give the court a holistic and comprehensive picture of the parents and their ability to meet the child’s needs.

Depending on the facts of your case, there may be more work ahead of you. But to learn more about how to build the evidentiary foundation for your request, talk to an attorney of your choosing.

Advocate for the outcome that your child deserves 

Custody modification disputes can be highly contentious. As a result, some parents end up backing off or not putting up the fight that they should. Don’t let your aversion to conflict lead to this outcome. After all, your child’s safety and well-being may be on the line.

So, if you want to ensure that you are making the best arguments possible in your case, you may want to consider having a legal advocate on your side who can help you make the aggressive arguments that you need to be successful.

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