Anyone in Kansas who has to go through the process of hammering out a child custody agreement with a soon-to-be ex-spouse knows that this can be the most emotionally challenging part of a divorce. After all, in the vast majority of cases, the parents involved want what is best for their children, and many parents will rightfully think that they are the ones who would provide the most stable family life in a post-divorce atmosphere. But, being subject to a child custody order is part of the divorce process that the parents must accept.
In the best case scenario, the child custody order will come from an agreement between the parties that is simply submitted to the court for ratification. When parents can agree out of court on an arrangement that is best for the children, everyone involved benefits. In some cases though, the parties are unable to come to an agreement, and it is then up to the court to make an order that is in the best interests of the child.
So, once a child custody order is entered, by either agreement or court order, is there any way to get that order modified? Well, under Kansas law, such a modification hinges on whether the petitioning parent can show that there has been a "material change of circumstances."
What is a "material change of circumstances?" This legal phrase can mean many things, but in most cases, it will mean that there has been something like a substantial change in one parent's relationship with the children: maybe drug or alcohol use has become an issue, or the child has gotten older and expressed a desire to live with the other parent. Or, maybe the custodial parent wants to move to a different city or state. There can be all kinds of qualifying events that might be considered to be a material change of circumstances, necessitating a modification of the original child custody order.
Source: KSLegislature.org, "Modification of child custody, residency, visitation and parenting time; examination of parties.," accessed on Jan. 29, 2017