Common Triggers That Lead to Child Custody Modification

Child custody arrangements are not always set in stone in Indiana. As a child’s needs and family circumstances change over time, there may be a need to modify the existing custody order. In Indiana, some common triggers can prompt a modification of a child custody agreement. A competent attorney can help prepare you for modification after a triggering event. This blog discusses some of the key triggers that lead to custody modification.

The main concern regarding child custody and modification is the best interest of the child and this is what the courts will look to in their determination. One trigger would be that there has been a significant change in the child’s best interests. Some factors to consider would be the child’s age, developmental needs change, health issues that require modification, and the child’s education and extracurricular activities change. In essence, if the current custody order no longer serves the child’s best interests, it may be grounds for a modification. Indiana law provides, “the court may not modify a child custody order unless: (1) the modification is in the best interests of the child; and (2) there is a substantial change in one (1) or more of the factors that the court may consider under section 8 and, if applicable, section 8.5 of this chapter. In making its determination, the court shall consider the factors listed under section 8 of this chapter. The court shall not hear evidence on a matter occurring before the last custody proceeding between the parties unless the matter relates to a change in the factors relating to the best interests of the child as described by section 8 and, if applicable, section 8.5 of this chapter.”

There is also a focus on the parents and if there has been a significant change in a parent’s circumstances. For example, a parent relocating to another state or of a significant distance could trigger a modification of custody. If a parent remarries or cohabitates with a new partner this can be considered a significant change in a parent’s circumstances. Another example would be if a parent loses employment or has a drastic change in financial status. If a parent’s physical or mental health impacts their ability to care for the child, then this would also be a trigger for modification. These types of instances can qualify as a significant change in circumstances for the parent and thus warrant a review of the existing custody arrangement and modification. 

A violation of the current custody order can prompt modification. For example, if one parent fails to comply with the terms of the current custody order and consistently denies the other parent their court-ordered parenting time. The Court may determine that a change in custody is necessary to ensure the order is properly followed and the child’s needs are met. Another trigger for modification is allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect against a parent. Consequently, the Court will prioritize the child’s safety and well-being in these situations, which could likely result in a change to the custody arrangement. 

In essence, the burden of proof is on the parent seeking custody modification. The parent must demonstrate that a “substantial change in circumstances” has occurred since the last custody order was issued and that the proposed modification is in the child’s best interests. Ciyou & Associates, P.C. has skilled and experienced attorneys who can help you navigate your child custody modification matters in Indiana. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou &Associates, P.C., and this blog is not intended as specific legal advice or solicitation of services, as this is an advertisement.


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