After a custody has been set, it is very difficult to modify. In general, absent an agreement otherwise, a motion to modify custody may not be brought until a year has passed since the initial custody determination. If there has been a motion to change custody, the parents must wait two years before filing another motion to modify custody. However, this restriction does not apply if the court finds that there is persistent and willful denial or interference with visitation, or has reason to believe that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development.
A party seeking an endangerment-based modification of custody must show:
(1) the circumstances of the child or custodian have changed since the existing custody order was filed;
(2) modification would serve the child’s best interests;
(3) the child’s present environment endangers his physical health, emotional health, or emotional development; and,
(4) the benefits of the change outweigh its detriments with respect to the child.
Depending on the circumstances, custody may also be modified if a child has been integrated into the non-custodial parents home with the consent of the custodial parent. Any one of our experienced family law attorneys can help you navigate the custody process.