Many residents of West Virginia assume that the court’s signature on the final order for judgment in a divorce case means an end to the life-altering changes that have disrupted their lives for the last several years. Unfortunately, this assumption often proves to be incorrect. Unexpected life events, such as an illness, a change of job, or financial woes, can render the court’s order burdensome or even unfair. West Virginia law permits a divorced parent to ask the court to modify an existing order for child support or custody under certain circumstances.
In order to persuade a court to modify an existing order for child custody, the divorced parent making the request must demonstrate that the circumstances of the child or one of the parents has materially changed since the original order was entered. The parent making the request for modification must also demonstrate that the requested change will serve the best interests of the child.
What evidence will the court use?
In ruling on the motion, the court will use evidence that is very similar to evidence that it relied upon in making the original order. Some of these factors include:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s age and physical and emotional health
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
- The child’s relationship with siblings and extended family members, such as grandparents
- The child’s adjustment to his present home and community and how the child may be expected to adjust to any change in family or community circumstances
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- Any history of domestic violence on the part of either parent
- Other factors that may affect the best interests of the child
Is an attorney needed in a modification case?
The evidence in a request for modification of either a custody or support order can be as complex or even more complicated than the evidence in the original divorce proceeding. A competent family law attorney can help organize and present the evidence in a positive and compelling manner.