One of the most difficult decisions parents face in divorce is child custody. Parents may agree to who should have custody of the children or they may have a court-ordered agreement. However, after custodial arrangements have already been decided, and perhaps have even been in place for a while, a child may decide that they want to live with the other parent. When this happens, the custodial parent may be left feeling blindsided and unsure of what to do next.
Why Does the Child Want to Live with the Other Parent?
The first thing to consider is why the child wants to live with their other parent. Understanding the child’s reasons for their request can help parents gain insight as to whether that request should be granted. Sometimes, children who reach a certain age, typically around nine to 12 years old, decide that living with the other parent would better suit their needs or desires. Other times, the non-custodial parent may have pressured the child or promised the child a reward in exchange for coming to live with them.
Is the Child Mature Enough to Make Their Own Decisions?
In some states, a child’s preference is a factor that judges consider when determining child custody arrangements. However, a child must be mature enough to make their own decisions and judges may consider the child’s level of emotional and intellectual development, as well as their capacity to understand and cope with the changes involved.
Consider the Impact on Sibling Relationships
Another factor to consider is whether the change will involve splitting up siblings. Brothers and sisters are often a source of support to each other during divorce and if one child moves out, it may affect that relationship. Therefore, before agreeing to the child’s request, parents must consider whether the move would be in the best interests of all children involved.
Respect the Non-Custodial Parent’s Position
Does the non-custodial parent want the child to come and live with them? Are they equipped to handle the change? Parents should communicate with each other to determine what is best for them, as well as the child.
Legal Requirements for Child Custody Order Modification in Maryland
Courts presume that stability is preferable for children, therefore parents seeking modification of a custody order must convince the court that the modification is in the child’s best interest. In Maryland, parents may do this by showing that there was a substantial change in circumstances that warrants modification of the order. Children who are at least 16 years old may seek changes in custody on their own; they too must prove that the change would be in their best interest.
Bel Air Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Assist Parents with Custody Modification
If you are seeking modification of your child custody agreement, contact a Bel Air child custody lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys can help secure the best possible outcome for you and your family. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 443-589-0150.