This is the next post in my series on changing child custody in Melbourne, Florida. My last article provided an overview of topics I will be discussing in this series and stressed the need to contact an attorney immediately if you wish to modify your current time share arrangement. It is important to speak with a lawyer sooner, rather than later, as the Court will be more cynical of requests which involve a parent who did not go to Court immediately. In this article I will be discussing the criteria one must meet to change custody in Brevard County or elsewhere in our state.
Many people make the mistake of thinking they can change child custody simply because they are “the better parent.” It does not work that way. In order to change your time share you must first show that circumstances have changed since the filing of your last custodial order. You must also show that, due to the change, it is now in the child’s best interests to be with you. I will discuss each of these issues in turn.
When determining whether circumstances have changed the Court will only look to events which have occurred since your previous order. Events which occurred before your last Court ruling will not be considered. Many situations can constitute “changed circumstances.” If, for example, a parent has moved to a new school zone it can be argued that the child’s education will suffer or that the child should be allowed to remain closer to their current friends. Things such as a parent having their work hours changed create an argument that the parent is now not available to watch and care for the child. More extreme events, such as a parent being arrested, abusing the child, or becoming addicted to drugs, obviously constitute a change in circumstances. While many things can be considered a “change” it is important to remember that your request will be denied unless your situation involves new facts.
Once you have established a change of circumstances it is necessary to show the Court that it is in the child’s best interests to be in your care. When determining what is in the child’s best interests the Court will consider things such as the wishes of the child (depending on the child’s age), the source of any conflict between the parents, the ability of a parent to meet the child’s needs, the need of the child to maintain a relationship with any siblings, as well as several other factors. The level of visitation the other parent would receive will depend on the nature of the case; a parent with severe drug addiction issues will likely receive less visitation than one who has simply moved to a more inconvenient location. It is important that your request to the Court be reasonable. Experienced counsel can help you to better understand your options.
Contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne attorney regarding changing child custody. I devote a substantial portion of my practice to family law and I am ready to assist you. My office also services clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.