Massachusetts family law recognizes that child custody arrangements sometimes require modification.
The parent requesting a change is responsible for providing proof of an acceptable reason for modifying the current agreement.
Proving you need a modification
When you file a request to modify, you must prove a significant change in circumstances occurred since the first order. You must also show that changing the custody order is in the child’s best interest.
Filing the correct paperwork
Either one or both parents have the right to request a modification. If only one parent files to change a judgment, they will complete a complaint for modification form called CJD 104. If the original order is temporary, the parent should file a motion for temporary orders. When both parents agree on the change, they can file the required forms together as a joint petition.
Providing an acceptable reason
When you file a request to modify a custody order, you must provide an acceptable reason. Some examples in Massachusetts include:
- The child’s needs dramatically changed.
- The custodial parent needs to relocate somewhere significantly further away.
- The child is in danger or at risk for abuse or neglect.
- Either parent has a significant change in their situation, such as beating a substance abuse problem.
- One parent refuses to comply with the custody order in place.
Agreeing on a modification does not automatically ensure the court will grant it. The judge will still review the changes to ensure it is in the child’s best interests. If not, the judge will deny it.