How Changes in Your Living Situation May Impact Child Custody

How Changes in Your Living Situation May Impact Child Custody
Feb 14, 2020
The Harr Law Firm

Child custody agreement with sticky noteWhile child custody agreements are bound and supported by the law, they’re not completely set in stone. Child custody arrangements can be modified at any time, should circumstances call for it. One situation that may lead to a change in child custody arrangements is a significant change in a parent’s living situation. If you’re anticipating a major change in your life and you’re worried about how it might impact your child custody agreement, this article will give you a general overview of what is likely to happen. If you want to get more specific details related to your unique situation, contact one of our child custody attorneys.

A Parent’s Relocation

If you’re planning a move in the near future, it’s important that you take the time to assess how this will impact your child custody agreement. In most cases, a simple relocation will not alter who has primary custody of your child or children. However, it does typically require some modifications to the agreement, particularly regarding how time is divided between parents that share joint custody.

For example, if you’re a non-custodial parent who typically got your kids on the weekends, this is no longer feasible when you move to another state. Instead, you might be able to negotiate for your children to come visit for a more extended time over the summer, or during their holiday breaks from school. If you’re moving to another country and regular visitation isn’t possible, your “visits” may change to phone calls or video chats with your children on designated days.

In some cases, if a judge deems that relocating the child will have a significant negative impact on the child’s wellbeing or on their relationships with siblings, half-siblings, or the other parent, they may elect to change custody. Ultimately, it will be dependent on how the move impacts the child’s physical and emotional health.

Change in Living Environment

Not every relocation means moving to another state or country. Sometimes, you’re simply forced to relocate to a new home due to factors beyond your control. Perhaps you had to find a home a bit closer to work, needed to move in with your parents to help care for them, or had to downsize due to budget issues. If the move does not signify a significant change in your living situation, it is unlikely to impact your child custody agreement.

However, if the move significantly alters your day-to-day living environment, the judge may decide to reassess the current custody situation. For example, let’s say that you lost your job and were forced to move from your home to a small apartment across town. The move took you into a different school district, and the apartment is small enough that you will have four children sharing a single room. Your ex, on the other hand, continues to live in your child’s current school district and they have a room designated for the child’s use.

Under such circumstances, a judge may determine that it is in the child’s best interest for your ex to receive primary physical custody, as the home would provide a more comfortable living environment and would allow your child to stay at their current school. Of course, there are many other factors that would be considered in this situation, but a change of custody would be a possibility.

Ability to Care for the Child

Sometimes, significant changes occur in your life that impact your ability to care for a child. Perhaps you have sudden and unexpected medical issues and are confined to the hospital for extended periods of time. Or perhaps you had to take on a second job to cover your living expenses and are rarely home to care for your child. If these changes in your life significantly impact your ability to care for you child, and you’re currently the child’s primary custodian, a judge may decide to amend the custody agreement to give primary custody to your ex.

While a change in your living situation doesn’t always imply your child custody agreement will be altered, it is important that you discuss any major changes with your ex-spouse as well as your child custody attorney. You will need to consider how this change impacts your child and their relationship with their other parent before you make any major changes in your life. If you have any questions about how an upcoming change in your life might impact your child custody arrangement, please feel free to reach out to us and schedule a free consultation.

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