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Modifying child custody orders

Family law judges in Florida and around the country award physical child custody based on what is considered to be in the best interests of the children involved, but these decisions may be revisited if situations change. However, judges will expect to be presented with compelling evidence before modifying custody arrangements that appear to be working. Modifications are generally made when children could be in danger, the custodial parent plans to relocate or the agreed-upon visitation schedule is being ignored.

The courts generally act quickly when there is a credible threat to a child's safety. They may become involved when allegations of domestic violence are made to law enforcement or teachers report that children seem afraid to go home. Judges may also modify child custody arrangements when the custodial parent is moving to a location that would make regular visitation impractical. Judges generally base these decisions on the reasons for the move, how relocating will affect the children involved and the steps parents have taken to resolve things amicably.

The courts may also become involved when custodial parents routinely ignore agreed-upon parenting plans and visitation schedules. Parents are expected to resolve their differences through negotiation, and judges may view visitation disputes as evidence of lingering resentment and anger. Custody arrangements in Florida could also be modified if the custodial parent becomes incapacitated or dies.

Protracted custody disputes can cause great emotional distress to both parents and children, and experienced family law attorneys may urge their clients to resolve these issues without involving the courts whenever possible. However, attorneys could argue vigorously before family law judges when efforts to reach an amicable settlement have been unsuccessful and the current custody and visitation arrangements are no longer in the best interests of the client's child.

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