How to Modify Child Custody Agreements

How to Modify Child Custody Agreements in Nashville

Helping parents adapt to changing circumstances

Parenting plans and other child custody orders are intended to be permanent and to provide the subject child with stability and predictability. However even the best plans may not be able to account for every situation that can arise and sometimes modification may be necessary. In other cases, disputes over the meaning or application of particular provisions of a parenting plan or other child custody order may require resolution. In either circumstance, as experienced custody attorneys, we at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC have more than 30 years of combined experience helping parents in Nashville and throughout Tennessee effectively and expediently resolve these issues.

When can parents modify a custody order?

There are two conditions that apply to every modification of a parenting plan or child custody agreement. First, any modification must be predicated upon a material change in circumstances.  If it is proven that there has been a material change in circumstances, the court must find that a modification of the parenting plan or other child custody order will serve the best interests of the child. The purpose of this requirement is to preserve permanence by preventing parents from modifying child custody arrangements for convenience.

Procedure for modifying a custody order

The procedure for modifying a child custody order is somewhat similar to the procedure for establishing an original order. The parents may submit a modification agreement in the form of a new parenting plan to the court for ratification and approval. If the parents cannot reach an approvable agreement, they can participate in mediation. Sometimes the mediation process even leads the parties to agree that the current order does not need modification. While parents may be tempted simply to enter into informal agreements, they are not legally enforceable. Only a Tennessee court ultimately can modify a valid child custody order.

Some situations, however, follow different procedures. If the current custody order puts the child at risk, such as if one parent has abused the child or has engaged in substance abuse while having custody of the child, the court may provide temporary injunction or other special relief without requiring mediation. Cases involving a parent’s relocation with a child, likewise, involve a different set of standards and procedures.

Contact us today for help modifying your custody order

Parenting after a divorce is an ongoing commitment that can require continuing legal counsel. At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, we are available to help parents throughout Middle Tennessee address the changing circumstances that can arise long after divorce or separation. Call us today at 615-454-9899 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Nashville office offers free parking.

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