Family law judges in Rhode Island and around the country follow the best interests doctrine when they make child custody and visitation decisions. This means they generally consider the needs of the child. Parents may ask the court to modify custody and visitation arrangements already in place, but their requests are unlikely to be granted if the child does not benefit in some way.
Seeking a child custody modification in Rhode Island
Parents in Rhode Island can ask a family court to modify a child support order whenever they experience a substantial change in circumstances that is likely to be permanent. Requests to modify child support orders are considered when the change in circumstances has made the existing arrangements unworkable. Child custody modifications are often requested by parents who plan to relocate. These requests are granted when the benefits of moving outweigh the emotional toll that attending a new school and making new friends will take on a child.
When children are in danger
The safety and well-being of children is the primary concern of the Office of Child Support Services. When children suffer physical or verbal abuse or spend time in unsafe environments, parents should notify the OCSS immediately. They should also contact law enforcement if the danger to the child is imminent. The child custody modification process moves quickly when credible evidence shows that children are in danger.
The best interests of the child
Requests to modify child custody orders are granted when the existing arrangements are not working and the proposed arrangements will benefit the child. Parents in Rhode Island can request a child custody modification at any time, but they must be able to show that their situation has changed significantly and their change of circumstances is likely to be permanent.