Many elements of a final divorce order are rigid and do not change. Once issues like property division are final, nothing can undo it. One area where this rule does not apply is a child custody order. In Massachusetts, seeking a revision to an existing order takes some benchmarks. However, if the circumstances fit, one may move forward and pursue a modification.
A change of circumstance
One prong of the modification test is whether a substantial change of circumstance occurred. This may sound vague, and rightfully so. There are several possible reasons or scenarios for a change in circumstances. When one parent seeks a modification, it may come on the heels of the other parent’s actions or inactions. Some scenarios when a parent may wish to get an adjustment to the custody order involve things such as:
- Relocation by one or both parents
- The child’s desires
- The child’s mental and emotional state under the current order
- The best interests of the child‘s educational and psychological endeavors
Violation of the current court order
The court establishes a custody order to set out how parents will care for children and the legal responsibilities such care entails. If one parent breaks that order, the other may seek a modification, changing the way custody works. Violation of a custody order may occur when one parent has an unstable home environment, stands accused of abuse, struggles with mental health issues that are not under control or denies the other parent’s access to the children.
Even years after a child custody order, a court is not remiss to modify it if the circumstances exist to warrant the change.