Are you unhappy with your custody agreement? You may be able to change it through a modification. These are set by the McLendon standard, which states: “The positive good brought about by the modification must more than offset the inherently disruptive effect caused by uprooting the child” (Fernambucq and Pate 10.06). This means that the party seeking the alteration must prove not only that his or her situation has changed, but also that the change is in the best interest of the child.
These are things the courts might consider when modifying custody:
- Violence or physical abuse – Abuse of one parent on another will be considered, especially if it is in the presence of the child. Physical abuse of the child will of course change the custody agreement. However, even violent behavior or aggressive outbursts in front of the child can also be considered.
- Residential and school stability – While simply moving residences is not sufficient evidence for modification, it can become sufficient if the child’s schooling is effected. If the non-custodial parent has more stability in residency and school zone, they might gain custody.
- Adverse change in custodial parent’s situation – A negative change in the custodial parent’s situation is not enough to change the custody agreement. However, it can be considered if you prove the child has been affected and the other parent will provide a more stable environment.
- Alcohol and drug use – Drug use will be considered if it is done in front of the child and negatively impacts the child. A similar approach is taken with alcoholism.
5. The child’s wishes – The child’s wishes will not determine which parent gets custody, but they can be a factor considering the child’s age, maturity and reasons given.
Katie Crow is a family law and divorce attorney located in Opelika, Alabama. Katie also practices in the surrounding areas of Auburn in Lee County, Chambers, Macon, Russell, and Tallapoosa counties in Alabama striving to help her clients with their legal needs. Katie specializes in areas concerning divorce, child custody and parental rights, adoption, modifications, child support, paternity, and other legal services.