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When can you seek custody modifications in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2021 | Child Custody

Child custody is not always cast on stone. When Ashburn parents divorce or separate, the court will always issue an order that outlines the custody as well as visitation arrangements. However, the court is always open to a review and modification of this order based on the prevailing circumstances and the state’s family code

All it takes is for one or both parents to petition for modification and the court will review and grant or decline the request. Basically, the court will modify the custody order if the judge establishes the following:

  • There has been a substantial change of circumstances affecting the child’s welfare; and
  • The modification serves the child’s best interest

Here are two possible examples that warrant a modification of a custody order:

When the child is in danger

One of the reasons the court will act swiftly to modify a child custody order is when it is established that the existing order or living arrangement poses a danger to the child’s welfare. The court will consider the following:

  • Whether the child is subject to direct or indirect domestic violence
  • Whether the danger is immediate
  • Whether the child has expressed the desire to move from their current home

When the visitation schedule is constantly violated

An existing child custody arrangement can also be modified if one parent routinely violates the visitation schedule. Before ordering the modification, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The original agreement reached by parents in the parenting plan
  • Any communication between the parents with respect to violation of visitation
  • Reasons why one party could be violating the visitation order

Child custody is usually one of the most contentious issues during the divorce process. However, it is important to understand that a child custody order can be modified whenever there is a need with the goal of ensuring that it serves the child’s best interests.