By the time you’ve struggled your way through a divorce and settled all the important issues, you don’t want to have to head back into court. Unfortunately, there’s sometimes just no way around it, especially when children are involved.

If your child custody agreement isn’t working, should you seek a modification? It depends. If you think the situation is temporary or something that can be hashed out with a few phone calls between attorneys, you may want to avoid the battle. Similarly, if the custody situation isn’t working for you but seems to work just fine for your child, you may want to hold off on taking the issue to court because judges can be reluctant to destabilize a child’s life for the sake of a parent’s comfort.

On the other hand, a formal custody modification may be necessary when:

  • You’re concerned about the other parent’s mental or physical capacity to care for the children. If your ex’s problems make it difficult for them to properly care for your child, a modification is definitely in order.
  • There’s been an incident of domestic violence in your ex’s home. Whether your child was the target of the violence or not is irrelevant. Children shouldn’t be exposed to violence inside their own home.
  • Your ex has adopted a lifestyle that puts your child in danger. Maybe they have developed a drinking problem, started using drugs or have gotten involved with people who espouse extreme philosophies since your split.
  • Your child isn’t happy with their current situation. This is particularly an issue with teens, who can sometimes develop a fractured relationship with a parent when they don’t get along.
  • Your ex won’t abide by the current agreement. If you’re constantly guessing whether your child will be returned on time or your ex has been known to disappear with your child for unplanned “vacations,” it may be time to involve the court.

These may be some of the top reasons that parents seek custody modifications, but they aren’t the only ones. If you’re in doubt about whether a modification of custody is warranted, an attorney can help you decide.