When parents get divorced in Florida, they have to reach an agreement about child custody (time-sharing) and if they can reach such an agreement, a judge will have to make a decision for them based on the best interests of their children. What many parents don’t realize initially is that child custody orders are open-ended. This means they are subject to change and the courts are well-aware of this.
There are many good reasons why a child custody order may need to be changed. Typically, new jobs, relocations, moves out of state, new spouses, and changes in the child’s needs or activities give rise to a child custody modification. In these circumstances (above), the parents may willingly agree to a child custody modification or one parent may seek a modification while the other parent contests it.
Common reasons for a child custody modification:
- The custodial parent becomes disabled or ill
- The custodial parent develops a substance abuse problem
- The custodial parent is neglecting the child
- The custodial parent is incarcerated
- The custodial parent develops a serious mental illness
- The custodial parent abuses the child
- The custodial parent wants to move and the child wants to stay
- The child does not get along with a new stepparent
- The child gets older and wants to move in with the other parent
When One Parent Seeks a Change
Sometimes, one parent will seek a change in child custody while the other does not want it. Usually, this occurs when the noncustodial parent wishes to change things so the child lives with him or her more of the time. In our experience, a noncustodial parent may seek custody of their child because they feel the situation at the other parent’s home is less than ideal for some reason.
Or, the custodial parent may be alienating the other parent and barring the noncustodial parent from seeing their children. If a custodial parent intentionally blocks their ex from seeing their children, it can backfire on them. If it can be proven that the custodial parent was alienating the other parent, a judge may award custody to the noncustodial parent. The family courts do not like it when parents willfully disobey court orders and interfere with their children’s relationships with the other parent.
If you need professional assistance with a child custody case, contact Schuttler, Greenberg, & Mullins at (561) 336-6082.