Even after you have finalized the divorce and made custody arrangements, life has a way of changing circumstances.
In Massachusetts, parents have the right to request a modification to custody orders. Keep in mind that the courts will conduct due diligence to ensure the necessity of the change.
1. What do the courts consider reasons for a modification?
In Massachusetts, custody modifications require meeting specific conditions. First, one of the parties must face a substantial life change, such as a loss of income, current arrangements interfering with a child’s activities or education, one parent moving out of state, or the home environment poses a potential danger.
2. What if my ex lives in another county or state?
If both parties agree to a change, the process goes much smoother. When you and your ex do not agree, the situation becomes more complicated. When one of the parents lives in a different county or state, the petition still needs to get filed in the county where you finalized your divorce. If out of state, the courts deem a child’s home state as where they have lived for the previous six months.
3. What factors do judges consider?
No matter the parents’ circumstances, the courts base decisions on the child’s best interests. That decision does not always come easy. In general, key factors include the availability of stable home life, the ability to adjust to school, or the wishes of the child if mature enough. If the courts agree with a change, they will provide written findings that detail the new guidelines and provide detailed facts as to why the change benefits the child.
Modifying a custody arrangement sometimes becomes a necessity. That does not always mean that the courts will agree.