How do courts decide if a change in custody is warranted?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and am unable to give you legal advice, I can give you some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.
Where I do practice in Virginia, the courts employ a two-part test whether or not a change in custody is warranted. First you must show a change in circumstances and second you must show that any change in custody would be in the best interest of the child.
A change in circumstances can be that one parent now has more children or that the children that were subject to the custody order now have different needs. Once the court finds that a change in circumstances exists, it will then move to the second part of the test, best interest of the child.
The best interest of the child standard is generally where custody cases are won or loss. This is a very fact-specific, nuanced argument. It is an important distinction to remember that the test is based on the best interest of the child, not the best interest of the parent or family.
All issues regarding child custody, especially when requesting a change in custody, are extremely fact-specific and require a specialized knowledge of local law. For these reasons I would suggest you contact an attorney who specializes in family law matters in your jurisdiction.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on visitation matters, so please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws of your state and how they impact your case.
To arrange an initial consultation to discuss child custody rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Virginia divorce Lawyer Charles D. Hatley, contact Cordell & Cordell.