PLM Family Law

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When may a parent request changes to a child custody order?

If your circumstances have significantly changed since your divorce, you may request a modification to your primary custody order. As noted on the State of North Dakota Courts website, either ex-spouse may submit a request to take over residential responsibility of their children’s primary caretaking duties.

Parents may also request modifying their original parenting plan or visitation schedule to meet a family’s current needs. By submitting written evidence of material changes, the court may review it to see if you have a strong enough case to revise an existing order.

Material changes may require medical records

North Dakota’s statutes generally do not specify the types of material changes that merit child custody modifications. Each family’s circumstances reflect unique issues. As explained by the National Council on Disability, an unexpected illness or disability may require making changes to a family’s overall lifestyle.

New medical treatments or programs, for example, may alter a parent’s work schedule. When an ex-spouse loses the ability to provide a child with care, changing custodial responsibilities could help manage a physical or mental health issue. Submitting medical records may prove the necessity of a modification.

The court typically reviews issues relevant to the child’s best interests

Before approving a change to an order, a judge may consider how a new living arrangement affects a couple’s children. Information about how the revised circumstances could impact a child’s safety and physical or emotional health may help support your case. If a judge sees issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse involved in the change request, it could influence whether he or she approves the changes to your custody order.

Families in North Dakota may request new visitation or custody orders that differ from the arrangement made during a divorce. The court must approve the request and both parents need to agree in writing to the modification.