Modification of Custody
The first issue to determine when modifying child custody is whether custody is actually being modified or if it is a change in the visitation schedule. Also, determining whether or not the matter is post-judgment is quite important.
If the matter is not post judgment, then a modification for any purpose is allowed with reasonable valid grounds. After the initial custody arrangement is established, the court is more reluctant to make substantial changes; however, the court is always willing to make reasonable modifications.
If the matter is post-judgment, before the court will hear a matter regarding a change of custody, there must be a substantial change of circumstance. A substantial change of circumstance is subjective and fact-based, and only after analyzing the facts can a determination be made if a substantial change of circumstance has occurred. If it is not a substantial change of circumstance, then pursuant to case law, the court may still modify visitation orders. However, the court is without jurisdiction to change custody if it is deemed post-judgment and there is no substantial change of circumstance.
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