Can Child Custody Be Changed After Divorce?

So, you’ve just been through the terrible process of a divorce, but on the bright side, you still have custody of your children. However, things might not to stay the same forever. What if the child custody is changed? Can it happen? Do you need a child custody lawyer for help? And what if you want to change child custody? Here’s all that you need to know.

Can Child Custody Be Changed?

If a parent or both of them want to change the custody order that was issued at the time of divorce, after some time has passed, then they can certainly do so. So, in simple words, yes, the child custody case might be taken up again by the court if the parents request some changes.

There might be a lot of times when courts can come up with decisions that seem like the best at that time, but since nothing stays the same forever and everything is ever-changing, so is the child custody order. It’s not a bad thing to modify a child custody order. There can be many reasons why parents request a modification in the existing child custody order. Sometimes, it can also be altered because the child wants some change and the court is obligated to listen to the case. It can also be because of the change in the circumstances of the parent’s lives.

What Will Be The Process Of Changing Child Custody?

Now that you know that you can change a child custody order after divorce, what exactly will be the process of it? Here is what you can expect:

First things first, you’re going to have to meet with your family lawyer or attorney. They are going to help you to kick-start the process of a modification in a custody order. Some people are afraid that the court won’t allow any changes. That’s a myth and the process of modification in a child custody order is relatively simple and quick, that is if both parents cooperate. So the degree of success, when it comes to changing a child custody order, solely depends on both parents and their willingness to help out.

The lawyer will file a motion for change in the order and the case will go to court.

Before the case is taken to court, however, the motion papers will also be served to the other parent. Once they give the go-ahead, it’s time to wait for the hearing.

The judge might need some evidence from both sides, aka from the parent who has the custody and the other parent who’s either the potential recipient of the custody or the reason why the order is being changed in the first place.

Why Do Child Custody Orders Change?

You might be wondering why child custody is changed in the first place or on what ground you can file for change in child custody with the help of your family attorney Fairfax VA. Well, here are some reasons why:


If the parent having the child custody, since the time of divorce, is relocating somewhere else, for a different career prospect or something else, then they need to think about their child’s needs as well.

They can’t just up and leave, and if the child doesn’t want to go, and if the other parent is still residing in the same city, then the court can issue a change in the custody order, where the parent residing in the existing city will be the caretaker of the child, from that point onwards.

You’ve Requested It

Court orders aren’t set in stone and sometimes, they might seem like the best decision, but in some cases, they might not be. If you feel like it’s hard to juggle taking care of your kid, while working and getting your life back on track, then you can request co-parenting.

This is also a change in the existing custody order, where the second parent can come in and help out with the care of the child and you both can work as a team.

The Child Wants To Go

Sometimes, children can be the reason why child custody orders are changed. In various cases, the child prefers one parent over the other and if there’s no obvious or alarming problem with them wanting to live with another parent, aka there’s no history of abuse, neglect, or bad care, then the court can change the custody order.

The custody rights can be transferred from one parent to the other. The process is relatively simple and both parties will be at peace, once the child is settled where he/she wants to be.


Some parents might use child custody as a way to alienate the child from the other parent. When making child custody orders, the judges are extremely careful in evaluating the situation, but sometimes, things can slip through the cracks. Alienation is abandoning the parent that does not have custody, from ever seeing the child again.

Things can be taken up a notch when the custodial parent can turn the child against the non-custodial parent and that’s quite messy. If the court senses, that this is taking place then they will issue a change right then and there for the child to be taken away from that place.

Court Order Isn’t Followed

This is also something that a lot of parents can do. A child custody order isn’t just determining who the sole caretaker of the child will be. There’s so much more to it, like proper care, expenses being handled, and so on.

Some parents might fail to live up to the expectations of the court, either willingly or unwillingly. So, if the court is not happy with how the child is being taken care of by the parent, then they can change the custody order and transfer the rights to the other parent.

There Is Abuse Or Neglect

This is more of a serious case and things can take a turn for the worse if the court isn’t vigilant in making the right decisions. A parent who wants custody might appear as a saint during the entirety of the divorce hearings, but there might be neglect and abuse behind closed doors and that’s completely unacceptable.

If the other parent or unrelated witnesses can give proof of abuse inflicted by the parent on the child/children, then the court will change the custody order right away, and will also grant a restraining order for good measure.

Change In Circumstances

Even if things aren’t as serious, child custody orders can be changed. The change in circumstances like living situations, one parent getting into a relationship and that’s entering serious territory, can have influences when it comes to changing the court order.

It’s a very common thing for parents to change the custody order because they’re starting new relationships or moving away, but they still want the best interest of their child, so that’s why both parties come up with a solution and that’s the change of the court custody order altogether.


Yes, child custody can be changed after the divorce for various reasons. Whether the custodial parent is moving, getting married again, or have any other reason, changes or transfers of custody can be made. You should consult a child custody attorney Fairfax VA to initiate the process.

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