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When to Modify Custody-Key Event or Series of Events

Once an initial custody determination is made and parenting time is determined, it is not etched in stone. However, a modification of custody requires more than simply stating “this is not working out”. The party seeking to modify child custody must show that there has been a substantial change in the factors for determining custody, and a modification is in the best interests of the child1.

Some major events can give rise to a petition to modify custody due to the serious nature of the event. For example, if the custodial parent seeks to move 20 hours away, this may be a catalyst for the non-custodial parent to move to modify custody. Another example would be if a custodial parent was arrested and jailed for a serious crime, and would remain incarcerated for several months or years. This would also be a catalyst to move to modify custody.

Series of smaller events put together to show a pattern may also lead to a party modifying custody. For example, if a custodial parent moves to 10 different school districts in 5 years, this may be creating difficulties for the child, and it may be a substantial change and in the best interests of the child to seek a modification of custody.

Additionally, a custodial parent who shows a consistent pattern of interfering with the non-custodial parent’s parenting time may be setting up a situation where the non-custodial parent may move to modify custody, based on the pattern of interference.

The standard for custody modification is the same whether one big event or a series and pattern of smaller events. It is important to keep track of your concerns, and it may be best to discuss them with an attorney to see what the next logical step for moving forward is and if a petition for modification of custody may be an option.

We hope that this blog has been helpful in exploring petitions for custody modification. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. may be able to help evaluate same. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.


  1. See Ind. Code 31-17-2-21
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Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Ciyou & Dixon will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. In addition, this practice focus is augmented by the firm's other three core areas, namely appellate advocacy, civil practice, and firearms law. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counselSM.

Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. of Indianapolis, Indiana, offers legal services for Indianapolis, Zionsville, Noblesville, Carmel, Avon, Anderson, Danville, Greenwood, Brownsburg, Geist, Fortville, McCordsville, Muncie, Greenfield, Westfield, Fort Wayne, Fishers, Bloomington, Lafayette, Marion County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Allen County, Delaware County, Morgan County, Hendricks County, Boone County, Vigo County, Johnson County, Hancock County, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana.