If you’ve gone through the difficulty of creating an initial custody agreement/parenting plan, you may be hesitant to go through the trouble of attempting to modify it. If your circumstances have changed, a modification may be necessary. What do you do next?
You’re not the only one struggling with this issue. As of December 31, 2019, there were 134 open child custody cases in Pulaski County, Arkansas.
You’ll want the help of a qualified family law attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas to help you through the custody agreement modification process. Attorney Scott A. Scholl works tirelessly to help his clients and has over 20 years of experience. Contact the Scholl Law Firm, P.L.L.C. today for a free consultation.
Can a Custody Agreement or Parenting Plan Be Modified?
Yes, plans can be modified. Just because you agreed to the initial arrangement and have a court order in place, that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.
You will, however, need to get the court’s approval for any changes (temporary or permanent) to the custody agreement or parenting plan.
This means you’ll need to have a valid reason for changing the agreement. What do the Arkansas courts consider valid reasons to modify a custody agreement?
If there is a “material change of circumstances,” according to Arkansas Code §9-13-101 (b)(1)(A)(iii), you may be allowed to modify your existing agreement.
A “material change of circumstances” could include (but may not be limited to):
- Deployment of a parent who’s in the military (Note: the modification would only be in place until the deployment ends)
- The refusal of the other parent to cooperate with a joint custody agreement
- Attempts to interfere with a joint custody agreement by the other parent
- Domestic violence
- The other parent becomes a registered sex offender
If any one of the above situations does occur, or if you end up needing to move out of state because of a new job, or experience another significant change in your circumstances, you should consult with an attorney to determine your modification eligibility.
Keep in mind that modifying the amount of child support either spouse pays is not related to a parenting plan modification/custody agreement modification. These are two completely separate issues.
Relocating with a Child
If you do find a new job out of state, or your current job (or a new spouse) wants you to relocate, are you allowed to move your child with you if you have a custody agreement in place?
The short answer is usually yes, but you may need to obtain a court order depending on what the arrangements of the original custody agreement were. This could require a modification of the existing agreement.
There’s always a chance that the court could deny a relocation request if it determines a move would not be in the child’s best interests or is done to prevent the other parent from fulfilling their court-ordered parenting time/custody rights.
The Modification Process
Any child custody agreement will need to be modified through the court. This means filing a document with the court to request the modification.
You’ll need to state your reasons for requesting the modification, and the other parent may be given an opportunity to respond to the request before the judge will issue a ruling on the motion.
Why an Attorney is Necessary
When significant circumstances arise, in either your life or the life of your former spouse, that make it necessary to modify a custody agreement, you’ll want to be sure that everything is done correctly to get the best outcome for you and your child.
In order to work out the best possible arrangement for yourself, your child, and your former spouse, you need a family law attorney with real experience in handling custody modification cases to help you through the process.
Attorney Scott A. Scholl has over 20 years of experience in family law and also understands the unique circumstances military families face when it comes to custody arrangements. Sometimes a modification becomes necessary, and Scott has the know-how to help you file a modification request with the court.
If you’re located in Little Rock or Conway, Arkansas, contact the Scholl Law Firm, P.L.L.C. today for a free consultation.