When a custody arrangement no longer works for your family, either parent can request a child custody modification. If you and the child’s other parents agree on changes to the parenting plan, you can simply submit it to the court for approval. In a disagreement, the parents can ask the court to decide.
Explore the process of requesting a child custody modification in West Virginia.
When do we need modification?
The family should seek modification to the child custody order if:
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent changes
- The residence where the child spends the most time changes
- The parenting time schedule changes
Either parent can submit a Petition for Modification to the West Virginia court. If a parent plans to move, he or she must notify the other parent within 60 days. If this move will affect the current custody arrangement, law also requires a Petition for Modification.
How does the court decide on modification?
The parent who wants to change the parenting plan must show the court that doing so serves the child’s best interest. The judge will consider:
- The physical and mental health status of each parent as well as the child
- The ability of each parent to care for the child and provide a stable home
- The ability of each parent to provide the child with emotional support and stability
- The relationship the child currently has with each parent and how that relationship would change with the new custody order
- The child’s wishes if he or she is at least 14
The petitioning parent must also show a substantial change in circumstances. While West Virginia does not define a substantial change, the law does indicate that parenting decisions, remarriage, moving in with a new partner and job loss do not constitute a substantial change for the purpose of custody unless any of these circumstances resulted in neglect, abuse or failure to follow these existing custody order.
In general, the state court prefers to maintain stability in a child’s live by preserving the same custody agreement whenever possible.