As the years pass following your divorce, you and your child may experience major life changes. You may want to relocate for a better job opportunity, or you may suffer a serious illness that affects your ability to follow your existing custody order. Children also change as they age and a child custody order that worked when the child was a toddler may not work when the child is a teenager. In such circumstances, either parent may want to pursue a modification of their current child custody order.
Understanding child custody in Maryland
Child custody orders in Maryland generally include provisions for physical custody and legal custody. Both physical custody and legal custody can be held jointly. In a joint legal custody scenario, each parent will share the same right to make major life decisions regarding their child’s welfare, such as the child’s schooling, religion and medical care. In a shared physical custody scenario, each parent spends specific days in the care of each parent and each parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child’s daily needs. Custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child. If these needs can no longer be met, a child custody modification may be warranted.
Modifying a child custody order
If a parent wants to modify a current child custody order, they bear the responsibility of showing why the modification is necessary. A modification will only be granted if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This means the modification must be in the child’s best interests and not modifying the order will harm the child’s well-being. Generally, a child custody order will not be changed if both parents’ homes are deemed equal with regards to the child’s health, needs and safety.
Know your rights about child custody modifications
Modifying a child custody order is a serious situation. It can significantly affect the lives of both the parents and the child. Therefore, these decisions are not made lightly unless the current custody order is so unfeasible that a change is deemed necessary to protect the child’s best interests. Parents who want to seek a child custody modification will want to make sure they understand what that takes before proceeding.