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Why and how to modify a child custody arrangement

Massachusetts parents who have gotten a divorce will also have to work through child custody arrangements. However, situations don't stay the same forever. There may come a day in which a couple believes their old custody arrangement simply doesn't work anymore. But can it be changed?

In short, yes. FindLaw states that there might be numerous steps involved before a person can modify their child custody arrangement, but it's entirely possible. There are two main ways to go about it: through a hearing, or through agreement. Agreement is the easiest option. If two ex-partners agree on the changes that need to be made, they can simply submit the proposal to the court. Usually, it will be approved.

Hearings can be more complex. It involves requesting a modification, providing proof of the changed circumstances, and going into mediation to try coming to an agreement without court intervention. If an agreement can't be reached, the mediator will submit their own proposal.

Verywell Family discusses some different reasons to modify a child custody arrangement. They generally include:

  • Relocation of a parent
  • Danger in the home environment
  • Death of a parent
  • Current visitation order not being followed

Danger in the home can include threat of domestic violence. Relocation can cover a wide range of situations from a parent on military duty, to a parent being arrested. All of these scenarios will shake up the life of the child, potentially making it better for them to have new arrangements.

Regardless, the child's best interests will be what determines what happens next. In many cases, it's simply a matter of waiting and seeing.

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