When parents who share a child divorce, the court will issue a custody decree. However, child custody is never cast in stone. Changes to the child custody and visitation order can be made when necessary.
However, you may not petition the court for custody modification simply because you’re unhappy with the current ruling. The reasons for modification must serve the best interests of the child. Here are some of the instances when the court can be open to the idea of modifying a custody and visitation order:
Violation of the custody order
Like with any other legal matter, a custody decree is binding and both parents are required to follow it to the letter. If either parent intentionally violates a custody order, they may be deemed to have acted in contempt of the court. As a result, the custody order may be modified in favor of the other parent.
Here are behaviors that can amount to a violation of a custody order:
- When the custodial parent denies the other their visitation rights
- When the parent with visitation rights refuses to return the child in time
- When one parent refuses to observe parenting agreements
In any of these instances, the non-violating parent can petition the court for custody modification, especially if they can prove that the violation is detrimental to the child’s best interests.
Changes in the parents’ situations
Life’s circumstances change from time to time. A significant change in a parent’s situation that impacts their ability to execute their parental roles can justify a modification of the custody order. To modify the order, however, the court must be convinced that the change is substantial enough to impact the child’s well-being.
Here are some changes in circumstance that can justify custody modification:
- Long-term incarceration
- An illness that renders a parent incapable of taking care of the child
- A parent needs to move out of the area
Protecting your child’s best interests
Child custody can be a contentious subject both during and after the divorce. Learning more about Louisiana child custody laws can help you safeguard your child’s best interests while litigating your custody modification case.