How Can I Initiate a Child Custody Modification in Maine?

Posted by William Bly | Jun 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

Child-custody-modification

Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent of the children in your finalized divorce agreement, there are numerous reasons why that custody agreement may require modification as the years go by. Fortunately, Maine's family law understands this and allows for revision of child custody agreements provided certain requirements are met and the overall modification is in the best interest of the children. You or your ex-spouse can initiate the child custody modification, and here's how to do so.

Acceptable Reasons for Child Custody Modification

The first thing to consider when preparing to modify your child custody agreement is the reason why. Maine will not allow adjustments “just because,” as this is not in the children's best interest. Aside from finances, when your original custody agreement was set up, your children's emotional needs, health, safety, developmental conditioning and his or her relationship with each parent was taken into consideration, and these things will remain at issue during any modification attempt. Some acceptable reasons for modifying your child custody agreement include:

•       If both parents agree to the modification and the children are agreeable to the changes, as well, generally all that must be done is a new agreement drafted, signed by both parents and filed with the court. If a judge feels that the modification is not in the best interest of the children, despite all parties being on the same page, there is a possibility he or she will reject it.

•       If either the custodial or the non-custodial parent has a significant, life-changing event that directly affects his or her ability to uphold their part of the child custody agreement, a modification may be in order. Such events include changes in the custodial home that endangers the children emotionally or physically, or changes in the custodial parent's ability to care for the children properly. The court will take other life-changing events, such as job loss or the need to relocate, into consideration.

•       Changes in income might also require an adjustment to your child custody agreement, as might changes to either parent's schedule that would result in different visitation arrangements.

•       Should one parent no longer be able to be the custodial parent, a child custody modification must be filed to switch primary custody to the non-custodial parent.

How to File for Your Modification

There are several reasons why your child custody agreement might require modification, and if you feel the necessary revisions will find favor in the court, you should begin the process of filing a “Motion to Modify” your family law judgment. To do so:

•       Go online or to your district's courthouse to obtain the forms required for filing the motion. Read the instructions carefully, and if you have any questions or are uncertain of how to fill out the forms, consult legal counsel. The courts generally frown upon changes to custody agreements, as this upsets the balance of the children, so you want to ensure that all forms are filled out accurately.

•       Serve the other parent with the Motion to Modify once completed. This must be done prior to filing the paperwork with the courts. Follow the directions for service on the paperwork and ensure that you attain proper proof of service before you head to the courthouse to file your motion. Once service is complete, file your motion with court and pay the necessary fees.

•       Attend a Case Management Conference. This is a requirement of the court, and approximately two weeks after you've filed for your motion to modify your agreement, both parents will be notified of the date and time of your case management conference. At the conference, you will meet with a magistrate of the court who will go over your motion and attempt to come to an acceptable modified agreement for all parties involved. If an agreement is reached, the magistrate will write it out and issue a final decision. If not…

•       Go to mediation and possibly a hearing. If you cannot agree on the modifications to your child custody agreement at the case management conference, you will be required to attend mandatory mediation in an effort to resolve the dispute. If mediation is unsuccessful, the court magistrate may require that the Motion to Modify be heard and a final decision rendered by a judge.

Obviously, this is quite an extensive process and the last thing either of you want for your children is a messy child custody modification that must be heard in court. The modification is much easier when you enlist help from an attorney versed in family law issues. The Law Office of William T. Bly has been guiding clients through complex issues for over 10 years. Call us now.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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