Personal, financial and familial situations often change over time, and such changes may warrant a review of your existing Massachusetts child custody arrangement.
The way you should move forward in this situation depends on whether you are alone in wanting to change the order or whether your child’s other parent is on board with the proposed change.
If you alone want a modification
When you are the one wanting to change your child custody arrangement, you must complete and file a Complaint for Modification. In doing so, you must show that a significant change in circumstances occurred since your existing order took effect.
For example, maybe your child’s other parent has stopped complying with your custody order. Maybe your child has voiced concerns about living with that parent and has requested a change. You may feel as if your child is no longer receiving what he or she needs due to your current custody arrangement. Not all such changes warrant a custody modification, so prepare to plead your case about why yours should.
If both parents want a modification
In the event that your child’s other parent agrees that you need a child custody order modification, you may be able to make the request without going to court. To do so, you must complete all necessary paperwork and submit it in the same court that handed down your initial custody decree. You may also have to pay a filing fee of $50 to change your child custody judgment.
If a judge approves your modification, you should receive word of his or her decision within 30 days.
If the judge does not approve your proposed custody change or has more questions, he or she may request more information from you within 21 days of your filing. At this point, both parties must appear in person to continue to pursue a modification.