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Melissa A. Featherston

What happens when a child custody order needs to be changed?

Protecting the best interests of the children and one's parental rights does not stop when a divorce is final. Missouri parents, even after working hard to put emotions aside and draft a beneficial parenting plan and child custody order, may find that changes need to be made. Life goes on after divorce, and sometimes life changes dictate the need for a modification to an existing custody order.

One of the most frequently cited reasons for a modification is remarriage. When one or both parents remarry, it can change the dynamics of a home, and what was once workable and practical may no longer be functional. Children adapt to changes, but sometimes, it is in the best interests of all parties involved to rethink the terms of a visitation and parenting schedule.

A modification may also be needed if a parent moves. Any residential move that affects school zoning, impacts important extra-curricular activities or disrupts a child's continuity of lifestyle could be grounds for a modification. A parent cannot relocate outside of Missouri without a court-approved modification, and the other parent has the right to oppose any modification request that could affect their parental rights. 

Life changes are inevitable, and the law has allowances for families that need to restructure the terms of a child custody agreement. The utmost priority is the best interests of the children, and parents may seek the opinion of a lawyer in order to determine if they have grounds for a modification. Parents must go through the court to change a custody order, even if both parties agree on the changes that must be made.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Life After Divorce: 6 Common Post-Divorce Life Changes", Kyung (Kathryn) Dickerson, May 20, 2016

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