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Can Child Custody Be Changed After Divorce?

Yes, in Arkansas, child custody orders can be modified if there has been a material change in circumstances since the initial child custody order was issued. A material change in circumstances could include, for example, a change in the needs of the child, a change in the work schedule or living situation of one of the parents, or evidence that one of the parents is not fulfilling their responsibilities as a parent. Once you prove that a material change in circumstances has occurred the court will then consider what is in the best interest for the child. If the court determines it is best for the child that the child custody orders be changed then the court will make those changes.

Reasons to modify child custody

  • A parent’s lifestyle has dramatically changed since the original child custody order was issued. This can include a major change in residence, work, or health. For example, if one parent went from working a 9-5 to working overnight. That might be a reason to modify custody depending on what the child care situation is like.
  • The custodial parent is no longer able to adequately care for or provide a safe environment for the child. For example, if a parent loses a job and can’t afford food, utilities, or housing.
  • One of the parents has been convicted of abuse or neglect of the child or has been accused of abuse or neglect.
  • The custodial parent has remarried and a new family member poses a threat to the safety of the child.
  • The child’s needs or circumstances have changed. For example, the child may have new medical needs or may be experiencing difficulty in school.
  • Either parent is relocating to another state, country, or province.

How to change a child custody agreement

Under Arkansas law either parent can file a petition to modify the existing child custody agreement. The petition then has to be served on the other parent. The other parent is then given time to respond before a court hearing is set. The court will assess the circumstances and make a determination based on what is in the best interests of the child. The court may also require that both parents attend mediation or counseling sessions before making a decision.

Once the petition has been filed, or even before, you need to start collecting your evidence for the potential hearing. You can collect text messages, visitation schedules, calendars, phone records and anything else that supports your claim that a significant change has occurred and that it is in the best interest of the child to modify the original custody agreement. If you want more details on the process, click here.

When to change child custody after divorce

The when is always dependent on what exactly is going on. A good rule of thumb is that the closer you are to the divorce the larger the issue has to be for the court to make a change. The farther away from the divorce you get the smaller the issues have to be for a change to be made.

If you are considering modifying an existing child custody agreement in Arkansas, it is important that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process. A lawyer can help ensure that your rights and interests are protected during the modification process. They can also provide advice on how to best present your case before the court in order to improve your chances of having the custody agreement modified in a way that is beneficial to you and your child. With the right legal representation, you can help ensure that your child’s best interests remain a priority during the modification process.