For couples facing a divorce, there are many factors that decide who maintains legal and physical custody. These include the ability of both parents to support their child, as well as the best interests of the child.
There are times where a situation changes, however, and one of the parents may wish to modify the custody agreement.
Material changes must present themselves
According to Virginia Code § 20-108, noncustodial parents may file a petition to modify the custody order in certain situations. In order for the judge to grant this request, however, material changes must occur that make it in the best interest of the child.
This can happen when a custodial parent loses the ability to take care of the child, either monetarily or emotionally. If a parent is experiencing homelessness, for example, it is in the best interest of the child to get into a stable home.
If a material change does not present itself, it is unlikely that a judge will rule in favor of modifying a custody agreement.
Consideration of the best interests of the child
According to FindLaw, the court will consider the following factors when determining the best interests of the child:
- The mental and physical condition of both the child and the parents
- What kind of relationship each parent has with the child
- The wishes of the child
- Any type of abuse occurring to or around the child
- Other important relationships to the child
- The role of each parent regarding the child’s rearing
If one parent suspects abuse of any kind, he or she should file a petition as soon as possible.