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Can I modify child custody arrangements?

Child custody arrangements contain anything from scheduled visitation time to provisions for how you and your ex will care for your child.  But when life throws something new your way, you may find yourself needing to make child custody modifications.

What is a modification?

Requesting a modification to your child custody arrangement means one or more of the current plans no longer work and that you need to make changes. You cannot simply request a modification to spite your ex or because you don’t get along. A judge will need to determine if the changes remain in your child’s best interests.

Reasons for making changes

While the deciding factor isn’t up to you when making final custody changes, you might consider modifying child custody arrangements if:

  • You believe your child is in danger — If you have evidence that your child is suffering from abuse at the hands of your ex or that they are no longer in a safe environment, you may need to seek modifications to your custody arrangements.
  • You or your ex move — A new job is one common reason why divorced parents need to move. Depending on how far your relocation takes you, you may need to change custody arrangements to accommodate your or your ex’s new location if you cannot make it work with the current parenting-time schedule.
  • Your ex does not follow through with the current plan —If your ex ignores or doesn’t cooperate with the current plans in place, they are not following through with the provisions outlined by the original custody plan. Changes may be necessary.

Filing for a change in custody arrangements

In Massachusetts, you can request a modification with your ex if you both agree on the proposed changes. If you cannot agree, you can file a complaint modification. You will need to be able to show that the current arrangements aren’t working, either based on the reasons above or on other factors. As long as the changes are necessary and continue to promote the wellbeing of your child, a court may grant you the proposed changes to your child custody arrangements.