After you and your child's other parent go your separate ways, the custody order you worked out may not actually fit your lifestyle or needs, or those of your child. The terms of a custody agreement almost always cause some form of conflict, eventually.
Fortunately, it is possible to change your child custody arrangement. Depending on the nature of your agreement and the changes you hope to make to it, the process can range from simple to complex, so it is always important to get professional guidance. An experienced family law attorney can examine your circumstances and the terms of your agreement to help you understand the challenges ahead of you.
If you're ready to change your custody agreement, don't wait to consult with a legal professional. The sooner you start the process, the sooner you may see results.
Do I really need to legally alter the order?
In many cases, both parents agree that certain changes to their arrangement can benefit everyone involved. Some couples choose to override the order and operate on a modified set of guidelines, but this can leave one or both parties vulnerable to later legal difficulties.
If both parents agree to to a certain set of changes, then a court generally does not mind altering the order. Even though this may seem like an unnecessarily above-board process to spend time and money completing, it offers both parties legal protection in case one decides to change his or her mind later on.
If you consistently deviate from the agreed custody structure, it is possible that the other parent may choose to document this while you believe that they are just fine with the deviations. However, in some cases, a parent may use these deviations from the order to argue that you should suffer some penalty. You may actually end up losing privileges as a result.
It is much wiser to agree to the changes together and then have a court approve the changes. This way, each party plays fair and wins.
What if we don't agree on the changes?
If you and your child's other parent cannot agree on the changes to the modification, you'll want to request the modification before the court. This generally means making the case to the court why you need the changes.
The majority of successful modifications occur because life circumstances change for one or both parents, but a number of reasons may justify the changes. These reasons may include
- A custodial parent refuses to cooperate with the original order
- One or both parents move to a new city or state
- The child's needs change
- One parent commits a crime or exhibits dangerous behavior
Whatever your modifications needs, it is always wise to consult with a legal professional who can help you understand the process and navigate the steps to success.