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Feb 18

When to Modify Your Child Custody Arrangement

Having a child custody arrangement ensures you and your ex still play an important role in your child’s life and that there are rules and guidelines set to help each of you navigate your parenting in the best possible way. However, your situation may change dramatically over time from when your child custody arrangement was initially drafted. For some people, they still try to make it work with the original terms, but for others, doing so is not simply an option.

There are certain instances where changing your child custody arrangement is a necessity. However, when dealing with the court system, it’s important to understand they don’t need to abide by your request, but they will consider the best interest of the child. If you have undergone any of the following changes in your life, then it’s a good idea to consider modifying your child custody arrangement.

Relocation

Your child custody arrangement is made up for you and your ex living in certain locations. However, that doesn’t mean each of you will stay there for the duration of your arrangement. Should a situation arise where one of you needs to relocate, especially if it puts you farther away from your child, then it’s a good idea to see if you can modify your arrangement. For instance, if you are moving out of state, maybe your arrangement will now include summer visitations and/or visitations during longer school breaks, like Christmas and Easter.

Opting for a modified custody arrangement is also important if you end up moving closer to your child. If you were out of state initially, then being closer to your child may allow you to have more visitation with him or her.

Environmental Changes

As a parent, it’s up to you to do the best for your child. However, some people go through hard times, and this can create bad environments for a child. If your ex has started to abuse drugs or alcohol, become violent towards your child, or express any behaviors that could put your child at risk, it’s important to ask to modify your custody arrangement. Whether the other parent has sole or joint custody, doing what you can to protect your child is the most important, so getting a judge to recognize the environment isn’t safe is imperative.

Reasons Not to Modify

In addition to having reasons that qualify for modifying your arrangement, it’s also important to note what won’t work. For instance, if your ex has different religious beliefs than your or is late on a child support payment, the judge likely will not adjust your schedule.

Whenever you decide to make a modification to your arrangement, you have a few options. First, if you and your ex agree on the changes, then you can informally make them and agree to them on your own. Just know these changes will not be done in writing, so there is no legal binding to them should anything else change in the future.

If you prefer to get them written down, you can meet with a judge and have him/her sign off on the changes you have made together.

However, should you want a change your ex doesn’t agree to, then you will need to get help through a service who has yours and your child’s best interests in mind. You will then be on your way to get your case in front of a judge who will listen to both sides of the story and make their final decision. Understand there’s no right or wrong answer for the judge, so be prepared for them to rule against you.