A party seeking to modify possession and/or access of a child must show a material and substantial change in the life of the child or a party affected since the issuance of the prior order. Additionally, the party seeking modification must show that the modification is in the best interest of the child. Denials of modifications happen more frequently in situations in which the parent seeking a modification proves a change in circumstance but the Court determines a change is not in the best interest of the child. Your attorney must be prepared to prove both that a material and substantial changed has occurred and that the evidence illustrates an environment justifying changing the existing order.
Experience matters both in determining what evidence to present and in determining whether or not the Court will modify the existing order. Sometimes filing a modification is a moral imperative. Other times the decision of whether or not to file a modification is a close call. An experienced attorney is most important in close call situations. Your attorney should not only know the law, but know the judge. That’s because the “best interest of the child” standard is more open to interpretation than most legal standards. Courts give different weight to the child’s age, development, and the good or bad behavior or a conservator. This variance is so significant that often different judges will rule differently on almost identical facts. Your attorney should know your judge well enough to tell you what your probability of winning is before taking your case.