Since most divorces result in settlement, many initial child custody arrangements are negotiated. Although the arrangement that you and your spouse agreed upon might’ve felt right at the time, circumstances can quickly change, leaving your child custody arrangement untenable.
In these circumstances, you’ll want to consider whether a custody modification is appropriate. If it is, then you’ll need to know how to effectively build your legal arguments so that you maximize the chances that you’ll secure the outcome that you want.
But how do you go about building your custody modification arguments? Let’s take a closer look.
Tips for building strong child custody modification arguments
The way that you approach your custody modification is going to depend on the facts, but there are some common places to look for support for your arguments. This includes:
- Criminal records: If your former spouse has been convicted of one or more crimes, then you can use them against the other parent. These criminal records can be especially powerful if you can show how they’re related to your former spouse’s ability to adequately care for your child. For example, a DUI conviction might be indicative of a substance abuse problem, and a battery conviction can highlight your child’s other parent’s propensity for violence.
- Witness accounts: Sure, your own testimony can be key in your custody hearing, but it’s best to have third-party accounts to help support your position. So, turn to neighbors, friends, and others who have not only seen you interact with your children, but also the other parent’s interactions with them.
- Mental health records: Your child’s mental health records can serve as powerful evidence, demonstrating how they feel about the current custody arrangement and how time with their other parent impacts their mental well-being. The mental health records of the other parent can be helpful, too, although it might be difficult for you to get your hands on those. That said, there are legal avenues you can pursue in hopes of getting access to those records.
- Drug screen results: If you’re worried about your children’s other parent engaging in substance abuse, then you may want to consider whether the other parent has submitted to drug screens and how you can use the results of those screens to your advantage. If you can gain access to drug screen results and those results are positive, then you’ll be in a strong position to show that a custody modification is warranted.
- Financial records: A parent who has custody of a child has to be able to meet that child’s basic needs. In some instances, though, the sudden loss of a job or chronic unemployment makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a parent to meet this obligation. In these circumstances, it could be helpful to subpoena the financial records of your children’s other parent, so that you have a better understanding of their ability to appropriately care for your children.
The arguments you make now will impact your children’s future
Although custody modifications can be sought any time there’s a material change in circumstances, you won’t be able to levy modification arguments to the court whenever you feel like it. Instead, you need to be ready to attack when the evidence is strongest.
Therefore, you need to be prepared to aggressively pursue your custody modification. Don’t just sit on the evidence and hope that the court will see it your way. You need to develop strong legal arguments that are supported by the evidence and are persuasive in nature. If you think that you could use some help in that regard, then now is the time to seek out the support that you need to successfully navigate your custody modification.