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The process of modifying child custody orders in Massachusetts

When a court issues custody orders specifying how the parents will share parental duties and responsibilities after a divorce, it is guided by the children’s best interests. Therefore, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the custody orders were issued and they no longer serve the intended purpose, it is possible to modify them to suit the current situation.

You can request a modification jointly, with your co-parent, or individually if they object to the changes. Either way, you must go through a court process, which involves filing a complaint for modification. After that, your co-parent must be served with the necessary court documents in writing, informing them of the date, time and location within ten days of the hearing.

What to expect at the hearing

The hearing will typically take place in a courtroom, presided over by a judge. Both parties or their legal representatives will have an opportunity to present their arguments, supporting evidence and witnesses. 

Each side will have a chance to explain why they believe a custody modification is necessary or not, addressing factors such as the child’s best interests, changes in circumstances and the existing custody arrangement’s suitability.

The judge will consider the evidence presented by both parties and evaluate how the modification aligns with the child’s best interests. Finally, the judge will issue a judgment regarding the custody modification petition.

Seek legal guidance

For a successful modification petition, you must demonstrate the material change in circumstances and how the current orders are not in the children’s best interests. It means gathering relevant evidence and presenting a solid case in court.

As such, it is best to seek informed guidance on what you can do and the mistakes to avoid to increase the chances of a desirable outcome.