By: Christina Pashou, Esq.
A custody or parenting plan can be changed/modified by the court if the parent seeking the change can prove two elements: (1) a significant change in circumstances has occurred since the judgment or temporary order was made and (2) that the best interests of the child(ren) are not being met by the current arrangement. A material and substantial change, will, by necessity, depend on the facts of a particular case. However, common examples include: the custodial or non-custodial parent has moved out of state, that the child(ren) is in danger by the current parenting plan, the child(ren) is older and have expressed a preference to change their residence, and any other change that affects the child(ren)’s well being.
If your custody order is a "temporary order," and you are in the midst of litigation, you can go back to the Probate and Family Court and file a "motion" asking for a change.
If your custody order is a "judgment" (final court order), you can go back to Probate and Family Court and file a Complaint for Modification. If both parents seek the modification, they can petition the court together. Otherwise, the matter will advance as a contested proceeding before the judge. The parent filing the Complaint is the Plaintiff and the other party is the Defendant, regardless of who was the Plaintiff or Defendant in the original court proceeding.
When the court is called upon to decide custody, Massachusetts state law requires the judge to consider a number of factors, including the child(ren)'s bond with each parent, potential adjustments the child(ren) may be subject to in the event the child(ren)’s primary residence and school will change, and each parent's capacity to provide for the child(ren)'s financial and emotional needs.
While many professionals agree that having parents share custody can be most beneficial, some parents simply are not capable of co-parenting. Shared parental responsibilities best serve the child(ren)’s best interests, and a child(ren)’s adjustment to divorce is easier when caregiver functions continue in a pattern the child is used to. Therefore, when deciding to modify you custody arrangement, your child(ren)’s best interests should always outplay any other factor.
To speak with a lawyer about divorce or other family law matter, contact Mavrides Law in Boston, Newton, or Quincy, MA. To schedule an initial consultation, call 617-723-9900 or contact the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org