If a child custody agreement was reached when you got divorced and was not what you wanted, it’s possible to modify the agreement. However, before you begin making changes, it is essential to understand when modifications may be made, what modifications may be made, and how to protect your child when making revisions.
When a Tennessee Child Custody Agreement Can Be Changed
Tennessee law allows a child custody arrangement to be revised when there is a material change of circumstances that affects your child’s well-being. A material change of circumstances does not mean that your child is necessarily at risk of suffering physical harm. Instead, it means that something significant has changed since the child custody agreement was reached.
Some examples of a material change of circumstances include:
- Failure to follow the parenting plan or visitation schedule
- A parent’s move, relocation, or change in living arrangements that impact parenting
- Alleged child abuse or neglect
- A parent’s health problem or another issue that impacts the parent’s ability to take care of the child
- A change in the child’s life that may come with age or other circumstances
- A concerning and significant change in the child’s behavior when the child is with one parent
- A parent’s job loss or a change in working conditions that impacts parenting
Any other material change in circumstances that impacts the child’s best interests may also be considered by the court.
If the child custody modification is contested and the parents do not agree on the terms, the parent seeking the change must prove a material change of circumstances affecting the child’s best interest by a preponderance of the evidence.
As with any custody agreement, the court must make decisions based on the best interests of the child. In some cases, the court may decide not to make any changes to the existing custody agreement.
What Child Custody Modifications May Be Made?
The modifications you request from the court depend on your unique circumstances but may include changing:
- The primary residential parent. Maybe a change in a parent’s life, such as a remarriage or job relocation, or a change in the child’s life, such as school commitments, make it important to change the child’s primary residential parent.
- Parenting time. A change in a parent’s work schedule, a child’s extra-curricular activities, or a move, for example, may necessitate a change in how the child’s time is divided between the parents.
- Visitation procedures. How, where, and when visitation occurs may need to be changed for various reasons.
The court may make any or all of the changes based on your child’s unique needs and circumstances.
How to Modify a Child Custody Agreement
The procedures for modifying a child custody agreement depend on whether the parents are in agreement about the changes and whether the child is in danger. To modify a Tennessee child custody agreement, you may:
- Negotiate a new parenting plan and custody agreement with your child’s other parent and submit it to the court for approval.
- Request an immediate temporary injunction to change the custody arrangement if you believe that your child is in danger.
- Petition the court to modify the existing child custody agreement. If you and the child’s other parent can’t reach an agreement on the modification during mediation, the court will hold a hearing where you both can explain your positions to the court.
Ultimately, a court must approve any changes to your current custody plan before the changes are legally enforceable.
You want what is best for your child, but you may have to fight for it if your child’s other parent disagrees with you. You can begin protecting your child’s best interests today by contacting our Tennessee child custody lawyers to discuss your legal options. Attorney Nathan Luna will give you trustworthy advice about your legal choices, so you can make the best possible decisions for your children. Contact us today.