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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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What does the term "material change in circumstances" mean

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What does the term "material change in circumstances" mean in Utah as it relates to modifying child custody? Can you provide a few examples other than the common sense things such as drugs/alcohol abuse or a criminal offense.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

A "substantial or material change" in circumstances is not defined by the courts. The court instead holds it is up to the judge reviewing the facts to determine whether some major change has occurred in circumstances since custody was last awarded. See: Hogge v. Hogge, 649 P.2d 51 (Utah, 1982) . Thus, the court uses the common sense approach when looking at what is material and substantial.

Things like a child growing older and going from pre-k to full time kindergarten or going into high school where time is more demanding in school or a parent having to move to get a job in another location or a parent getting some permanent disease or disability or a parent developing a substance abuse problem or one of the parents losing a home can all be things that would be substantial or material changes that the court can use to change custody.




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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
What are the odds a judge would award sole custody (from a 50/50 arrangement) of three children based on one child acting out due to frequent medication/prescription changes? Note: The other children seem fine - participating in sports and school activities, socializing well with friends and doing well in school.
Thank you for your response. It is not likely that one child acting out would be grounds for them to change custody of all three. There is a possibility the court would change custody of that one child to see if the other parent would have better control over that child and the court can even order that the child be placed in therapy during the change to try to determine the cause of the behavior, which is more important to the court.
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