Missouri parents who file for divorce must work out terms of agreement regarding all issues that are relevant to the care and upbringing of their children. No two families have the same needs or dynamics, which is why state guidelines allow parents to craft their own agreement or ask the judge overseeing their divorce to make such decisions on their behalf. After a child custody order is in place, issues may arise to compel the court to modify its orders.
If you have determined a need to request child custody modification, you must be prepared to show just cause. This basically means that you must provide a legitimate reason to convince the court that its initial orders are no longer feasible or accommodating the children’s needs. Since the court has children’s best interests in mind when it makes custody decisions, a judge may not be willing to modify the order, except for a justifiable cause.
Missouri judges have granted child custody modification for these reasons
Every state has its own guidelines to help family court judges make child custody decisions. The following list provides several examples of issues that may compel a judge to modify a custody order:
- One of the parents has died or become incarcerated
- Parent is relocating for employment
- Evidence shows parent is unfit for custody
- Parent is disregarding original terms of agreement
- Military deployment is forthcoming
- Parent has become incapacitated
Other issues, such as those relating to finances (i.e., loss of income, change in family size, etc.) may also constitute just cause for requesting modification of a child custody (or child support) order.
Does your spouse have to agree to the request for a change?
Child custody issues can sometimes be complex and difficult to resolve, especially if parents do not agree on what’s best for their children in a particular set of circumstances. However, the Missouri family court system is set up to provide support and assistance to parents, as needed, which is why a judge can make custody decisions (or modifications to a court order) even if the parents in question are not in agreement on a particular issue.
If you believe you have just cause to initiate child custody modification, but your ex does not agree, you can still file a motion in the court that issued the original order. As mentioned earlier, you must be prepared to provide evidence of need to the court, meaning legitimate reasons why you believe the judge should grant modification and how such a change would align with your children’s best interests.