When you have a child with someone but are no longer living together, you will need to work out an arrangement regarding possession and access to the child – what most people refer to as “custody and visitation.”
Like most things in life, your agreement is not cast in stone and can be a subject of modification when a genuine need arises. However, before modification, the court will always seek to establish whether the modification request is in “the best interest” of the child.
Here are three grounds upon which you may petition the court for modification of an order of possession
If the child is in danger
Child endangerment is one of the primary reasons the court will modify an existing arrangement immediately. An endangerment case can be filed by either parent and can take any of the following forms:
- Violence (physical or psychological) from either parent
- Parental behaviors that put the life of the child at risk. These can include drug or substance abuse, dangerous crimes like defilement or engagement in a lifestyle that is likely to expose the child to bad morals like prostitution.
- Abandonment of the child by the parent with primary physical possession
Abuse of court order
Denying a co-parent their access rights to your child or abusing your access privileges can both be causes for modifications. Abuse of the court order goes beyond access to the child. If the court establishes that one parent is trying to alienate the child from the other parent, then the aggrieved party may be awarded modifications
Child custody can be a contentious issue, especially if both parents do not seem to be seeing eye-to-eye on the subject. However, the court may be open to modifying the existing custody order if it deems the petition to do so valid and in the best interest of the child.