When most co-parents draw up a child custody agreement, they intend for that agreement to work for their family for some time. No one wants to go back to court to seek a modification if they don’t have to. However, sometimes a modification of the agreement is in the best interests of your children.
Remember that if you and your co-parent can’t agree on the terms of the modification or your co-parent doesn’t believe the agreement should be modified, you’ll need to convince a judge. Even if you and your co-parent agree that a modification is necessary, a judge may determine that the changes aren’t in the children’s best interests.
Let’s look at some examples of what circumstances may make a request for a modification necessary.
One parent isn’t abiding by the schedule that’s in place. A judge will want to know why a parent is repeatedly ignoring the schedule. However, they may determine that if a parent is refusing to follow the schedule (perhaps not picking up or returning the kids on time, for example), it’s best for the kids they have less scheduled time with that parent.
One or both parents is relocating. If the move is a significant distance away, it will likely require a change in the agreement. It’s essential to check with the court before relocating, however — particularly if you and your co-parent share custody.
A child is in danger when they’re with one of their parents. A parent will likely need to produce evidence of this, and a judge may order a social worker or other professional to investigate the situation.
The children’s needs, schedules and/or wishes have changed as they’ve gotten older. These changes often make a modification of the custody and visitation agreement in their best interests.
It’s generally best when co-parents can talk with each other and agree on the modifications before taking the request to a judge. However, any modification you agree to should be codified in your agreement to avoid confusion for both you and your children and minimize the chances of accusations by your co-parent that you’re not following the agreement. Your family law attorney can assist you with this process.