Can You Modify Child Custody Orders in RI?

Most legal questions involve the adjudication of a specific set of facts. Once the case is completed, the judgment resolves the matter and the parties may never have any further interaction. Because of the nature of family law cases, some issues continue long after the final divorce order has been entered. Modifying a child custody order in Rhode Island is not so easy.

For instance, if a couple divorce when their child is young, it is likely that the child support or child custody order will remain in force for many years. Imagine if you have a child who is 3-years-old at the time of the divorce. Your agreements and your contact with your child’s other parent is likely to continue for the next 15 years.

During that time, things will change. Your child will age and develop new interests and needs. You may develop another relationship and could remarry. Your employer could move, close or you could seek greener pastures elsewhere. You may need to relocate within Rhode Island because of a change in your job, remarriage or to enable your caring for an elderly parent. Or you could be transferred across the border to another state or across the country.

Any of these changes may necessitate a modification of your child support, child custody or visitation agreement. This process is not simple or straightforward. And you will likely need to discuss the situation with a Rhode Island family law attorney, as most changes will require approval by a court.

You Need a Significant Change in Circumstances

The change needs to be significant to modify child custody. It must be a substantial change in the circumstance that makes the existing custody arrangement unworkable. For instance, if you need to move because you have found a job that offers pay that will allow you to better provide for your child, a court may grant the request, because it furthers the best interest of the child, assuming there are not other factors that militate against such a move.

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