Divorce and Family Law News: I Changed My Mind. I Do Want The Kids!
Potential clients often call with regrets about their divorce settlement. These men and women had a different attorney represent them in their original divorce action, but they now regret the decisions made. They agreed to what their then-spouse requested to get the case over with. They wanted peace in the family. The change of heart typically occurs because the decisions made during the divorce process suddenly have a real impact. Most of time, potential clients tell me they now want expanded parenting time.
Simply changing one's mind is not a reason the court system reconsiders parenting time. The minor child's best interest is the cornerstone of all custody cases. Below you will find reasons Iowa courts will sometimes change child custody arrangements.
Relocation of a Parent: If a parent with joint legal custody and primary physical care of a minor child moves over 150 miles away from the child's residence at the time of the divorce, the Court may modify the child custody arrangements.
Criminal Activity: If a parent becomes entangled in criminal activity – with or without a criminal conviction – the Court may modify child custody because a substantial change in circumstances occurred. This is because the overall competency of that parent to care for the child is called into question.
Job and Financial Stability: Stability for the minor child is important for the child's well-being. A financially stable home with a parent who has a steady income or financial resources is important to maintaining child custody. The Court may modify a decree if the party with custody becomes financially unstable.
Mental Health: Working with a mental health professional is a great way to handle mental health concerns. Courts often commend parents when they seek mental health help. For a parent unwilling to address mental health issues, the Court may decide the best interests of the minor child require a change in custody.
Threat of Physical Harm: If there is an immediate threat to the child's physical safety, the Courts may decide it is necessary to remove the child from one parent's care and into the other parent's care pending resolution of the case.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list and represents only a handful of the situations where Courts sometimes agree to modify child custody orders. Each case is highly fact-specific with each presenting unique family histories. When faced with a parent's request to modify child custody arrangements, Courts review the circumstances in each individual case and apply existing law.
Research and drafting assistance provided by Elaina Steenson, Law Clerk, Whitfield & Eddy Law.