Child Custody Modification

Oregon Child Custody Modification Lawyers

Child custody may be modified in certain situations. When parents initially have joint custody and the co-parenting relationship has broken down, either parent may return to court and request that a judge make a determination of which parent should have sole custody. To modify a determination of sole custody, a parent must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances as to a parent’s ability to parent. Further, the change of custody must be in the children’s best interests.

As a general rule, judges do not like to change custody of a child once it has already been decided. Changing custody can be disruptive to the child and is often perceived to not be in the child’s best interest. Further, unlike when custody is first decided, there is a higher burden to change custody once it has already been determined. Nonetheless, there are certainly legitimate circumstances under which courts can and will modify child custody. Some examples where a change of custody might be appropriate include:

  • The custodial parent is moving away. In this circumstance, there is a very strong presumption that effectively removing a parent from the child’s life (the one not moving) is not in the child’s best interest. This circumstance could necessitate a change in custody.
  • The custodial parent is not performing the duties of a custodial parent. For example, if the custodial parent is not getting the child adequate medical care or not attending to the child’s educational needs, this could form the basis for a change of custody.
  • Neglect or abuse by a custodial parent undoubtedly could cause the court to change custody. Note that “neglect” or “abuse” are serious circumstances. Simply allowing the child to watch too much TV, eat too much sugar, or not enforcing a strict bed time are not the types of parenting that rise to the level of “abuse” or “neglect.”
  • For whatever reason, the child is not thriving with the present custodial parent. Constant conflict, an unstable living environment, or other factors that are causing the child unusual physical, educational, or emotional turmoil may be considered by the court. This could include excessive conflict with a new spouse, partner, or step-sibling.
  • Note that a parent losing a job is not a substantial change of circumstance sufficient to modify custody of a child. As a general rule, a parent’s financial hardship will not be used against that parent to cause them to lose custody. If for some reason the financial circumstance becomes so dire that the child is being adversely harmed, this may be considered by the court (i.e. malnutrition, homelessness, lack of access to adequate medical care)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a short example of the types of circumstances that might constitute a “substantial change in circumstance.” Custody modification cases are very challenging. An Oregon child custody modification lawyer can help guide you through the process. Call us today to discuss the facts of your case.

What To Expect Oregon Child Custody Modification Consultation

We meet with all potential clients in person for the first consultation. This allows us to meet potential clients and hear the background of each case, to determine if your case is a good fit for our office, and to provide information about a client’s rights and responsibilities under Oregon law. We offer this initial consultation for a flat-fee of $100.00.

When starting the process for finding a lawyer, potential clients often ask “who is the best child custody lawyer in Oregon” or the “who is the best lawyer to change child custody in Portland?” The answer is: the lawyer who gets the results you need. Like the rest of family law, there is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to selecting a family law attorney. The best attorney for you is the one who listens to your circumstances, provides solid legal advice, and facilitates and achieves your goals. Contact one of our Portland divorce lawyers today to set up a consultation.