Proofs Required to Modify a Child Custody Order

All marriages start with forever in mind, but not every marriage makes it to that. Couples may decide not to stay together through a divorce or legal separation. As much as couples have the right to determine what is best for them, the law requires that adequate provisions be made for the children so that they do not lack the necessary care needed to live a relatively normal life.

“Child support order regulates the parents’ relationship towards the child after a divorce or separation. It determines who makes decisions, visitation rights, as well as child support payment,” says Attorney Matt Towson of Towson Law Firm.

After a court rules on a child custody order, a parent can file for the modification of such order once there is evidence to prove that changing circumstances necessitate that. However, whatever the reason may be for filing a child custody order modification, the child’s well-being is of utmost priority, and the court will not make any decision that would jeopardize that.

What is a Child Custody Order?

According to the Family Law Acts, a child custody order is a legal document that a family court issues. This document outlines the terms and conditions under which a parent has been granted child custody. It shows which parent should take care of the child and sets the coverage area for that responsibility.

A child custody order can be any of the following:

  • Emergency order: The court issues this order when there is an urgent need to protect the child’s interest. This type of custody order is common in child abuse or domestic violence cases. Before issuing this custody order, the parent filing for custody must prove that the child is at risk of violence or abduction. Getting an emergency order can be done in hours and sometimes without a hearing. However, this is accompanied by a hearing with both parents present.
  • Temporary custody order: This order is usually issued out of necessity to have the child’s needs taken care of while the divorce proceeding lingers. This temporary custody spells out the responsibilities of the custodial parents, sets child support, and outlines visitation rights. A temporary child custody order remains effective until it is ended by a judge’s pronouncement or replaced by a permanent custody order. Temporary custody is not compulsory, especially when parents can agree on how they will take care of the children during the divorce settlement process. However, it may be ideal to get one as it clears any form of confusion as to the responsibilities of the parents towards the child.
  • Final custody order: The final order is issued once a case has been brought to a close. It outlines which parent has physical and legal custody of the child and is in the form of a parenting plan. A final order remains effective until the child turns 18, becomes independent from parents, or the court grants a custody order modification.

Factors Influencing Child Custody Order Modification

The circumstances under which the court issues a final child custody may change after a while, necessitating a modification of the order. In that case, a parent will have to file for a modification motion and will be required to substantiate their claim before it is granted.

The following are the reasons for a child custody order modification.

#1. Custodial Parents Relocation

The relocation of the custodial parents is a valid reason for filing a child modification order. The court factors in relocation while deciding on modification. However, there are no guarantees that the custody order modification will be granted.

The custody order modification filed by the non-custodial parent stands a chance of succeeding. However, they will have to prove that the relocation would negatively affect the child and make it increasingly difficult for the non-custodial parents to work with the schedule outlined in the current one. A custody order may include a section that limits the custodial parents from making out-of-state relocations or mandates them to give notice for a specified period before making such moves.

#2. A Significant Change in the Child’s Needs

As time progresses, the needs of the child may change. Different environments may be best for children to thrive at different life stages. If a parent filing for custody modification can prove to the court that the change in the child’s needs requires a custody order modification, the case may pull through.

Some children may develop emotional and psychological disorders that may make one parent more suitable to take care of them than the other. Where this is the case, the parent who wants the custody order modified is required to file a motion and provide substantial proof for the claim. The judge will then decide on the case after thoroughly considering the available facts.

#3. Where the Child is in Danger

A child custody order is granted to the parent who the court believes to be most suited to provide the best care for the child at the initial filing of the case. If, however, there is proof showing that a parent’s behavior can jeopardize the safety and security of the child, the court can modify the custody order.

Certain behaviors are considered dangerous for the child’s well-being, including:

  • All forms of child abuse and domestic violence
  • Mental health issues on the part of the custodial parents or other adults living with the child
  • Drug and alcohol abuse that places the child in danger of physical harm
  • Any situation which exposes the child to being abused by others

It is crucial to involve the police if a parent feels their child is in danger before filing a motion for modification. This ensures that the child is safe, as any form of delay may be detrimental to the child.

#4. Failure to Adhere to the Custody Terms

The failure of any of the parents to adhere to the terms outlined in the custody order is valid grounds for filing a custody order. However, you will be required to prove that the other parent violated the order. Besides granting the custody order modification, the parent who failed to honor the order may be charged with contempt of court.


Filing a custody order modification requires you to have solid evidence that would convince the judge to revisit the terms of the custody. However, the court places the child’s interest above all else and would decide based on what is best for the child. While you can go through the process all by yourself, working with a qualified family lawyer increases your success chances.

If you have any questions, please ask below!