As your children grow and you put your divorce behind you, one day, you may find that the child custody plan you created no longer works. When this occurs, you might need to seek a modification.
A court approves the initial child custody order, so it is they that must approve any modification. You can seek one, which the other parent can challenge, or the other parent can seek one, which you could contest. It is much easier, however, to discuss it with the other parent first, reach an agreement, and ask the court to sign off.
Do I always need to go to court to modify custody?
A court does not want to know about every little scheduling change. They will only give a modification where there is a “substantial and unanticipated change.” That means you don’t need to get a court order for minor, temporary changes that you and your co-parent negotiate around your schedules.
You do need the court’s permission for any major modification of your custody agreement, however. Here are some things that may qualify:
- You want to move to another state with the kids
- Your child wants to live with you rather than their other parent.
- You have contracted an illness which means you can no longer be the primary caregiver.
- You believe someone in your spouse’s new household abuses your child.
You may want to err on the side of caution when it comes to any custody modifications. Having experienced legal guidance can help you avoid significant mistakes that could be harder (and more expensive) to correct down the road.