If you have children and are getting a divorce, you will have to provide a parenting plan. Legal custody and physical custody will be awarded to you, to your ex-spouse, or to both of you jointly.. If you feel later on that the custody arrangement is flawed, is not working, and meet the requirements mentioned below,, you may consider filing a “petition to modify”. This pleading begins a process of responses, settlement discussions, and possibly trial. The outcome will require consideration of the following:
- Material and substantial changes in circumstances.
If there has been a material and substantial change in the life of either the child or one or both of the parents, then a court may so find.. These changes can range from a new job, religious change, one of the parents getting remarried, or a drastic change in health on either the part of the child or the parent. Also, when a child is 14 years old in Utah, the court will give added weight to the preference of that child. However, just because one or more material and substantial changes in circumstances have been made, there is no obligation on the court to change the custody arrangement.
- The best interests of the child.
If a party can prove that a substantial change in the life of the child has taken place, then a court will decide if the proposed change will be in the child’s best interests. But “best interests” can be somewhat subjective. It is not unusual for both parents to claim the best interests of the child or children can only be with the parent asserting it.
If you are able to show there has been a substantial and material (i.e., “important”) change in circumstances, and that the proposed parenting plan is in the child’s best interest, the court will be more likely to modify.
For all your needs and questions regarding divorce, parentage, custody, and other family law issues, contact the Huntsman Firm.