Situations arise and circumstances sometimes change long after a child custody order has been issued by the court as part of a divorce decree. When the situation has changed substantially, it may be necessary for one or both parents affected by a custody order to seek a change.

Courts recognize that life circumstances can change, thus necessitating the ability of a parent to seek a modification of an earlier order. If the original child custody order was issued by a court in Utah, people may file a motion to modify the child custody order by filing a motion with that court. Generally, the original issuing court will retain jurisdiction over the matter.

If the requested modification is uncontested, the parents may file a stipulated motion with the court together. Courts generally will approve such stipulations as long as they are in the child’s best interests. If one parent wishes to modify custody and the other has an objection, the parent wishing the change may file a motion to modify with the court. He or she will then need to serve the motion, along with a summons and notice of the scheduled return date, on the other parent. An affidavit of service must then be filed with the court. This gives the other parent an opportunity to respond to the modification motion.

While it is sometimes possible for parents to amicably arrive at a new custody agreement when a change is needed, this is not always the case. If it is contested, the court will hear evidence as presented from both parents regarding the reasons for the requested custody modification. If the court finds that the change is in the child’s best interests, the judge will then modify the child custody order. Until and unless an order is modified, parents must follow the existing order as it stands.

Source: Women’s Law, “If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?“, December 29, 2014

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