When it comes to child custody, family courts always base their decisions on what they believe to be the best interests of the child, however, this is not always the perceived best interest of a parent. Sometimes, new circumstances may warrant a change in these decisions. Issues of custody, visitation and child support are never final in Virginia — until the child is out of high school. For these reasons, things can change.
If you believe that your Virginia child custody Order needs to be modified, you can file a Motion for the court to amend or change the existing Order. Here are the requirements and the process to modify a Virginia child custody Order.
Two Essential Requirements For Child Custody Modification in Virginia
You must first have valid grounds to ask for a change in the child custody Order – it can’t be changed just because one parent wants to. Your reason for filing the Motion must satisfy two important requirements: one, that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances concerning your child, and two, that a change in custody arrangements would be in your child’s best interests.
A “substantial change” may include new developments with the custodial parent such as serious health issues, a change in address that complicates the child’s routine, a change in the parent’s working hours, problematic alcohol or drug use by the parent, or instances of child abuse or neglect, and so on.
It could also mean improvements in your own situation that would allow you to better care for your child. Examples of such improvements are a schedule with more free time to spend with your child or a much more stable financial state.
You must then show that because of such a change, it would be best for your child to have the custody Order modified. The court will decide on this by considering factors such as the relationship of the child with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide for the child, and the physical and mental health of each parent.
Steps In Virginia Child Custody Modification
To file your Motion for custody modification in the Juvenile Court, fill out the Virginia Form DC-630, which is the “Motion to Amend or Review Order.” You can download a blank form from the Virginia judicial website.
In the document, clearly state the requirements of your current custody Order, the changes you are proposing, and your reasons for requesting these changes. You can then file this directly with the clerk’s office of your Juvenile and Domestic District Court.
Once you’ve filed your Motion, the court will set a hearing date and also notify the other parent. The hearing will be evidentiary, which means that both you and the other party will have the opportunity to present evidence for your respective sides of the case. This also means that before the hearing date, you must gather evidence to support your motion.
After hearing both sides of the argument, the judge might enter a new ruling on the custody case that changes the existing arrangement. Again, the ruling can either change the custody arrangement or retain it.
It has proven vital for many parents to have the help of a family law attorney when moving a court for child support modification. In Virginia, you can consult with us at Holcomb Law – we are ready to provide you with experienced guidance. Give us a call at 757-656-1000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.