Many states opt to grant co-parents joint custody of children unless it is clear that an alternative arrangement will better serve the best interests of a specific child. Much of the time, joint custody arrangements serve the best interests of the children affected by them. But there are times when granting sole custody to one parent is the superior choice.

When a family law judge makes a child custody determination, standing orders may only be modified by mutual consent of both parties or by a formal modification granted by the court. If parents cannot come to an agreement related to the modification of standing orders, one parent must formally request that the court modify those orders. It is worth noting that family law judges typically only grant modification requests if a family’s situation or a child’s needs have changed significantly since the original orders were put in place. This high threshold helps to ensure that co-parents do not drag each other into court over relatively minor grievances.

When a parent with joint custody believes that a sole custody arrangement would better serve his or her child’s best interests, it is generally a good idea to seek experienced legal counsel. Whether the altered arrangement will result from mutual consent (and eventually signed off by a judge) or will need to be formally requested and approved by the court, receiving knowledgeable legal guidance helps to ensure that this transition is achieved in an effective, enforceable way. Altering a child’s custody arrangements significantly is not a minor occurrence and must be treated with great care.

The Best Interests of the Child

When attempting to argue that you should assume sole custody for your child, the primary question you will need to both ask yourself and answer effectively is why this alteration in your custody arrangement will best serve your child’s best interests. A judge is not going to take away you co-parent’s custodial rights (especially if he or she contests your modification request) unless a significant reason exists that makes such an alteration necessary. For example, if your co-parent was recently convicted of a violent crime that renders him or her unfit as a parent, this may serve as adequate grounds for a change in custody. If you are in doubt whether your reasoning will hold up in court, do not hesitate to express your concerns to your attorney.

Child Custody Guidance Is Available

If you have questions about child custody generally or child custody modifications specifically, please consider connecting with an experienced family law attorney. Because each family’s circumstances are unique, it is generally a good idea to seek legal guidance about your specific situation. When meeting with an attorney, it is important to remember that the best interests of the child standard may be argued a number of different ways, so it is important to provide as many details about your situation as possible. Once an attorney better understands your circumstances, he or she will be able to advise you of your options.

Speaking with an attorney, like a child custody lawyer in Lake Forest, IL from Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC, does not result in any kind of obligations to take legal action. But speaking to an attorney early in your child custody process will allow you to receive necessary support as you seek to make informed decisions about the best arrangements for your child.