How can I modify child custody in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Family Law |

Surviving your divorce was a milestone. Successfully coparenting with your ex-spouse is another milestone. However, what if your circumstances have changed and you need to modify the original child custody order? Modifying a child custody order in Virginia is a possibility, but it is a process governed by specific legal standards.

Understanding the grounds for modification

A Virginian can seek a modification if there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the child’s well-being or a parent’s ability to care for the child. First, assess the change. Determine if your circumstances have significantly shifted since the last order.

Second, gather evidence. Collect documentation supporting the need for a custody change. Next, complete the forms. Obtain and fill out the necessary forms from the Virginia courts website.

Fourth, file the motion. Submit the forms to the court clerk along with the required fees. Do not forget to serve the other parent. Legally notify the other parent of the modification request. And, attend the hearing. Both parents present arguments before a judge, who decides on the modification.

Factors considered for modification

The family law judge utilizes many factors to determine whether to grant the child custody modification, but ultimately, the best interest of the child is at the heart of the judge’s analysis. First, the judge looks to the child’s age, physical and mental condition.

Next, the judge looks at each parent’s physical and mental health, including their existing relationship between each parent and the child. Courts also look at the child’s developmental needs and important relationships, and the willingness and ability of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent. Finally, the judge looks at any history of family abuse or neglect and any other relevant evidence.


The clear takeaway is that you can modify your Virginia child custody order. However, it requires proof of a material change and prevailing in a legal process, unless you can get your ex-spouse to agree on the modification. It is a meticulous process that often necessitates legal research, filings and prevailing at a hearing.