This is Todd Burnham, the Founding Partner of Burnham Law, and an experienced family law lawyer with a superb record. In this post, I tell you what you can do with your custody agreement if your ex moves around a lot.
When faced with a divorce proceeding and the failure to get custody of your child, it’s very understandable to find flaws in your co-parent’s actions and hope to get a change in custody order. You watch your ex’s every move in order to spot a factor that you can argue in court as harmful for the health and well-being of the child.
So a common question asked by parents who did not get custody is whether or not they can request for a custody modification because their ex moves around a lot. The concern here is valid, considering that frequent moving and change can be a difficult transition for the child. They have to transfer schools, join a new and unfamiliar community, and say goodbye to people who have played a significant role in their lives, among others. Change is difficult for a child, especially those at a young age.
Is this a valid ground for a petition to modify custody?
It depends. In granting custody of the child, the court always takes into consideration one crucial requisite: the child’s best interest. They take a look at all the factors that can help them identify which parent is more suitable for the child to live with and who can take care of them better.
The best interest factors come into play when deciding who to award custody to, they include:
- The child’s preference regarding which parent he or she wants to live with — if old enough or capable to express a reasonable choice.
- Mental and physical health of the parent
- Special needs of a child and how the parent can address those needs
- Religious and cultural considerations
- Stability of the home environment
- Support and possibility of interaction with members of the immediate or extended family
- Relationship with other members of the household
- School and community adjustments
- Age and sex of the child
- Patterns of domestic violence
- Excessive discipline or emotional abuse by the parent
- Evidence of drug, alcohol, or child abuse.
So in the case of a spouse that’s always moving around, what’s important what is in the best interest of the child. If these frequent transfers adversely affect or endanger a child’s health and well-being, then this is a valid ground to argue in court.
The Purpose of Moving
Another thing that has to be taken into account is the reason why your co-parent is changing locations a lot. Is it because they’re in the military? Is it because of their financial conditions? Is it because of a job relocation or a career shift?
These things circumstances are important. The court will have to find a justifiable reason why your ex’s act of moving around a lot is not in the child’s best interest in order to consider a modification in custody.
Most often, a custody modification needs extreme circumstances in order to be successful, such as physical, psychological, emotional abuse, drug and alcohol use, shaming, etc. What you have to remember is that a change in custody is a very serious and important matter because it involves the welfare of a child. Hence, the court takes the facts you present seriously and will decide on a setup that redounds to the benefit of the child.