There’s no doubt that there’s a lot at stake when a child custody dispute arises. The outcome could drastically affect your relationship with your child. It could limit the time you spend with him or her, and even the way in which visitation occurs, such as supervised or unsupervised.
On the other hand, the result of a child custody or visitation disagreement could also dictate your child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Exposure to domestic violence or substance abuse can have an enormous impact on your child, causing him or her to develop anxiety, depression, fear, overwhelming stress, and aggressive behaviors. He or she may also struggle in school, have difficulty building stable relationships, and lose out on his or her childhood by taking responsibilities that are beyond his or her years.
While you may be able to head off these issues when a child is first born or when your marriage dissolves, an initial custody and visitation order isn’t always suitable. After all, life’s circumstances, and people, change. So, if you find yourself in a battle over what is best for your child, then you may want to consider whether a child custody modification is warranted.
In order to secure a modification, though, you have to show that there has been a material change in circumstances. So what constitutes a material change? These scenarios would likely qualify:
- The discovery of parental substance abuse
- Abuse or neglect is present in the child’s home
- The child has been exposed to domestic violence
- A parent has failed to comply with the existing court order
- One of the parents is considering a significant relocation
- The child has changed his or her preference
- A parent’s physical or mental status has changed considerably
- A significant change in a parent’s ability to financially support the child
A lot of these situations are open to argument given that many of them require a subjective assessment of the situation. This means that you need to be prepared with evidence to support your position. This may include witness accounts, but also documentary evidence such as criminal, employment, and medical records. What is important to keep in mind is that the court is going to base its decision on what it believes is in the child’s best interests, so you’ll need to focus on that when building your legal arguments.
There’s too much to leave to chance when dealing with a child custody modification. The same holds true for disputes over visitation, although you don’t have to show a material change in circumstances to warrant a modification of visitation. Given the complexities of these cases and the emotions involved, many Connecticut residents find their minds put at ease when they secure the assistance of an experienced family law professional. These attorneys can help guide an individual through the process, ensuring that the parent and child’s best interests are pushed to the forefront and that the chances of succeeding are maximized.