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When to consider child custody modifications

One of the downsides to splitting with your spouse or co-parent is if you share kids and agree on a parenting schedule. Provided you’re awarded joint custody, this plan will significantly impact the amount of time you spend with your child.

While many parents who share joint custody would prefer not to share custody with their ex due to some bitterness after the end of their relationship, it’s unlikely that’s enough to warrant a modification of the parenting plan.

There are certain circumstances in which you might have a valid reason to request a modification and in which a judge may seriously weigh your petition. Knowledge of these situations can be helpful.

When a judge may approve custody modification requests

Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-6-101 is the portion of state law that outlines situations in which the court may agree to modify parenting schedules: if parents can produce evidence that shows that there’s been a material change in circumstances that goes against the child’s best interests.

The state law is quick to highlight that the concerned parent doesn’t have to show that their child faces a substantial risk of harm to warrant the modification. Instead, the statute outlines how a parent only needs to show that there’s been a progressive shift in their child’s needs across time. This section of code references how significant changes such as the following may warrant a modification of parental residential parenting time:

  • A change in a parent’s employment or residential situation
  • The child’s age
  • A parent’s failure to adhere to the established parenting plan

Other situations that a judge may weigh in deciding whether to approve a custody modification request include:

  • A physical distance, such as a parent’s relocation out-of-state
  • Parental alienation
  • A child’s custodial preferences (state law generally allows them to express them starting at age 12)

Judges have one primary responsibility: making decisions that they believe are in a child’s best interests. Crafting an argument that a modification is what’s best for them can take some careful planning. You’ll want to learn more about what details to highlight before laying our argument in front of a judge in the courtroom.


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