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When can you change child custody in Virginia?

Once you agree on a custody plan with your child’s other parent, it is a legally binding agreement in Virginia. To make changes, both parents may have to go back to court.

Review the laws that apply to child custody modifications in Virginia.

Reasons for modification

To receive a modification, you must show a material change in family circumstances. The judge will review the evidence to determine whether the proposed change serves the child’s best interests. Examples of material changes in circumstances include:

  • Life improvements by the noncustodial parent that create a stable home environment that warrants additional parenting time
  • Negative changes in the custodial parent’s life that put the child’s physical or mental health at risk
  • Changes in the child’s needs, such as diagnosis of an illness or learning disability
  • Alienation of the child from one parent by the other parent
  • The custodial parent wants to move with the child, either to another county or out of Virginia.

The modification process

To start the modification process, you must file the request for modification petition with the Virginia court that issued the custody order. The court will schedule a hearing at which both parents can provide evidence and testimony to support your position. Factors in determining the arrangement that supports your child’s best interest include his or her age, health status, adjustment to the current custody arrangement and the role you have each played in raising the child.

You may qualify for an expedited modification if you or the child’s other parent has deployed in service to any branch of the United States Military.