Hanover Child Custody Modification Lawyer
Visitation and custody disputes give rise to some of the most emotional issues faced by family courts. Judges must balance parental rights with children’s best interests and be careful not to disrupt settled custody orders. Significant custody alterations often require a thorough investigation into your child’s wellbeing and the court’s jurisdiction.
Housing and financial situations are likely to change after divorce, often requiring parenting plan revisions. Working with a compassionate Hanover child custody modification lawyer may reduce the stress of reopening sensitive visitation matters. Because our extraordinary team has over 25 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our attorneys are prepared to help you understand your parental rights and discuss alternatives to comprehensive judicial intervention.
Regulations for Modifying Child Custody Orders in Hanover
Judges may issue child custody and visitation orders before parents have the opportunity to adequately reorganize their lives after divorce. The Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act controls whether Commonwealth judges can legally modify visitation orders. This law states that, unless there is an emergency situation, the child must reside in the Commonwealth with the custodial parent for at least six consecutive months if a Massachusetts family court did not enter the original custody declaration.
Judges may only alter child custody determinations under Mass. Gen. Law, Chap. 208, §28 as long as there was a relevant and significant change in one or more parties’ circumstances and a modification serves the child’s best interest. Alternatively, parents may jointly petition to modify a custody order if the changes would benefit the child or an emergency arises.
Material and Substantial Changes Permitting Custody Modification Petitions
If an interested party objects to a proposed modification, judges must decide whether circumstances have materially and substantially changed. Grounds for modification commonly involve alterations to a parent’s work schedule, job, residence, or financial stability. For example, a non-custodial parent may request shared custody and visitation once they find a steady job and housing after a divorce.
Emergencies also qualify as grounds to modify custody orders. Courts may temporarily or permanently change a visitation arraignment if:
- A custodial parent dies or develops a serious illness
- One party abandons or endangers the child
- There were instances of abuse or negligent
- One parent is deployed
- One party was charged with a serious crime or imprisoned
- The child requires protection or out-of-state medical care
One of our experienced lawyers in Hanover can help you petition for emergency child custody and visitation modifications. The safety and wellbeing of your child should always come first.
Best Interest Standards Governing Changes to Custody Decrees
While the appropriate grounds for requesting a modification must exist, the child’s best interest still controls custody and visitation determinations. When determining what is in a child’s best interests, judges must generally consider:
- Any instances of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
- Any parental history of drug dependence, alcoholism, or criminal convictions
- The parents’ ability to work together to support their children
- The child’s wishes and current situational stability
- The child’s mental health and current living conditions
- Any special medical or educational needs of the child
- Instances of parental desertion or neglect
The court may appoint a qualified guardian ad litem to analyze these factors and make educated recommendations. With the help of an experienced attorney, co-parents can develop an agreement on the modification on child custody that can be submitted to the court to be entered as a judgment. However, judges must still consider the above factors and, if the proposed modification is one the court believes may destabilize or negatively impact the child, the court may reject even a joint proposal.
Speak with a Hanover Child Custody Modification Attorney
At O’Connor Family Law, we understand that your child’s needs come first. Whether you are seeking a modification to your current custody order, or you are contesting a petition to change your existing arrangement, we want to help you protect your family and parental rights. For more information about how to handle these cases, contact one of our Hanover child custody modification lawyers today.