Hi everyone my name is Trevor Osborn. I’m Utah Attorney working at Red law. How can you change your current custody arrangement We’re not talking about establishing an initial custody arrangement. We’re saying that the court 1 year ago, 3 years ago, 5 years ago however long ago the court entered a custody arrangement saying that mother should have this type custody and the father should have this type of custody. Perhaps they did this as part of a divorce, or part of a petition for paternity, a petition for custody.
However it happened, the court already entered an order establishing which parent should have which type of custody. Now time has passed and you’re saying I want to change that order that the court initially entered. I want to change my current custody arrangement. How can you do that If you want to do that you, have to cross two hurdles. The first hurdle is you have to show the court there has been a material and a substantial change of circumstances in your case. The second hurdle you have to cross is to show the court.
That because of this material and substantial change of circumstances it is in the best interests of the children that the custody arrangement be changed. Now let’s talk about this first hurdle a material and substantial change of circumstances. We’re not just talking about some big event in a child’s life, or many events that amount to a big change in a child’s life. We’re talking about some material and substantial change of circumstances that affects the custody arrangement between the parents and the children. We’re talking about a situation that affects the parenting ability.
How to Modify Custody in Utah
Of the parents twoparent children. This might be one big incident or it might be the accumulation of a lot of small things. So, I’ll give you a few examples of what a material and substantial change of circumstances might look like. It could be a change in the child’s environment. That covers a lot of ground but one of the things that might cover is if one of the child’s parents have been remarried. So, for example, if custody was entered in a divorce case, and now the two divorced parents are remarried, or one of.
The divorced parents is now remarried, now the child has this stepfather or stepmother and sometimes that stepmother or stepfather has brought their own children into the marriage. So now the child has step brothers and step sisters and the child is now having to navigate a very new situation in dealing with another parent and new siblings. If one of the parents has a new job or a new work schedule that drastically alters the schedule of the child. Has one of the parents moved to a new area So now the child is having to go to a new school, find new friends, play on.
New sports teams, be in different extracurricular activities, live in a new neighborhood, and if so, is this affecting the custodial relationship between the parents and the children that was previously working Is one of the parents actively attempting to exclude the other parent from being involved in the child’s life Has one parent demonstrated poor parenting ability or regularly made decisions that are not in the best interests of the child One factor that gets brought up quite frequently is that the child is not doing well in school. In the current custody arrangement, perhaps the child isn’t getting the.
Attention at home the child needs. Perhaps hey’re not doing well on their homework, they’re not doing well on tests and sometimes they’re even struggling socially in school. If you’re making this argument as the parent that wants to change custody one thing that may help you is to say ‘look the child is not doing well in school when she’s with the other parent, but when she’s with me she does well in school. she does well on her homework, she performs well on tests, and she seems to do better socially.’.
So what you’re attempting to show is that the child isn’t doing well in school when they’re with the other parent, but they are doing well when they’re with me. If the child is struggling socially, mentally, psychologically, or even has occurring physical health problems, that may be grounds to find a material substantial change in circumstances. But remember, it’s not just about showing that there’s been some great change in a child’s life. It’s about showing that there has been a material and substantial change in the child’s life and that change is affecting the ability of the parents.
To parent. If the child wasn’t struggling with certain issues that they’re having now, that very well may impact the ability of the parents to parent. Certain parents are perhaps better equipped to handle certain situations better than other parents. So a child that has depression, for example, may be better off spending more time with one parent than with the other. Changes in religion can also be a factor that the court looks at. So if the child was raised in one denomination and then one of the parents no longer is a part of that denomination.
You may be able to show that that factor affects the stability and continuity in the child’s life. Extracurricular activities and the child’s mean interests may be something that the court looks at. That might seem kind of insignificant to say the court is going to look at the child’s extracurricular activities to see if a change in custody is in order, but for a lot of teenagers extracurricular activities, participating on sports teams, competing in dance or other competition teams like that are very important and crucial for the child’s.
Ability to feel a sense of selfworth accomplishment. So if you have one parent that is actively trying to prohibit the child from participating in these activities or limiting the child from participation in these activities, but on the other hand you have one parent that’s encouraging the child to participate in these activities, that may be something that the court considers. Another factor that’s quite frequently brought before the court is that there has already effectively been a change in custody andor parenttime. Meaning that even though the court previously entered an order of custody, say for example,.
Primary physical custody to the mother, and the children were spending 75 of their time with Mom and 25 of their time with dad, but now in the last several years the children wanted to spend more time with dad and mother has allowed thatnow the dad goes back before the court, petitions the court for a change in custody, and says ‘look I just want a change in custody to have the court enter an order allowing me to have a custody arrangement that I’ve already been having over the last several years.
Anyways.’ If the child or the children in the case are of a sufficient maturity level to reason through the nuances of choosing which parent they would like to spend time with and then that child makes those wishes known to the court or to a guardian ad litem that has been assigned to the case, that can have a significant impact on the court finding a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. It’s not a slam dunk either way, but by statute in Utah, if the child is 14 years old the court will grant more weight.
To the preference of that 14 year old child. There’s no guarantee that any of the factors that we’ve just gone over are gonna be enough for the court to say ‘Yes. We find a material and substantial change of circumstances has occurred.’ Sometimes it’s going to be one big factor that’s going to push the court far enough to say ‘Yes, with this one factor we find a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred.’ Other times though, and in my experience more frequently, it’s going to be the accumulation of a lot of different factors that are going to move the court.
To allow you to pass over that first hurdle. That’s why when you’re filing a petition to modify and to change custody you want to put in as many factors as possible and not rely on just one factor because you may think it’s a slam dunk. Now after you present all of your evidence to the court, if the court says ‘Look, we just don’t find the material substantial change of circumstances occurred, here.’ Then you’re done, you go home, and the court will not issue any change of custody.
In your case. You don’t move on to the second hurdle if you don’t cross the first one. But, if the court does find that by the evidence you presented that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances that has occurred, then you move on to that second hurdle. At that second hurdle you have to show the court that because of this material and substantial change in circumstances that has occurred, it is in the best interests of the child, or the children, that custody should be changed. At that point,.
You have presented a lot of evidence to the court and the court may have enough evidence before it to say ‘Look, you’ve shown us a lot of stuff. Enough that we found a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. And this is also enough for us to determine that a change in custody is in order. But there are other factors that a court will consider before it will just simply issue a change in custody. One factor that the court will consider, especially when one parent is petitioning the court for a change in.
Custody, is whether the child is currently happy in his or her environment. Is the child thriving Is the child well adjusted Because if the child is, then the court is not going to want to disrupt that current environment of the child just to please one of the parents. The court will look to a number of other factors if the court feels that it needs to. One factor is the depth and quality of the relationship between the parent and the children. We will look at the parenting abilities of the parents.
We will look at their past conduct. We will look at their moral standards. We will look to see if the child has been exposed to domestic violence, other abuse, or other harmful situations. The court really wants to see that the parents are mature. The court wants to see that the parents have the ability to put the child’s interests above their own. The Court wants to see the parents have the ability to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the other parent. The Court does not want to see.
The parents disparage one another before the children. The Court does not want to see the parents actively limit the participation of the other parent in the child’s life. The court is interested in putting the children in the best custodial arrangement possible a custodial arrangement that meets the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs. So when we’re talking about what’s in the best interests of the children, we’re talking about any factor under the sun that the court can use to determine what is actually in the best interests of.
Those children. So, to summarize, if you want to change your current custody arrangement, you have to cross two hurdles the first hurdle is to show the court that a material and substantial change of circumstances has occurred in your case. If you cross that first hurdle, then you move on to the second hurdle, which is to show the court that because of this material and substantial change in circumstances, a change in custody is in the best interests of the child. And if you can bring forth enough evidence to cross both of those hurdles,.