Sharing custody of your child with someone else is a years-long process. Unlike other family law issues like divorce or property division, you don't just make a decision and then go your separate ways when you share a child. Parents will continue to be in each other's lives as long as they are in their children's lives.
With this in mind, there may come a time when a child custody plan needs to change. After all, over time, people change and circumstances changes, so it follows that custody arrangements may need to change as well. If you are considering or responding to a request to change in visitation or custody, you should understand a few things.
Taking the appropriate steps
Even if both parents agree to a modification, it must be approved by the courts. Putting in place an informal or unapproved modification can wind up causing serious problems and jeopardizing a child's well-being.
Typically, you (or your attorney) will file or respond to a request for modification, attend a court hearing and then you will need to comply with whatever order the courts approve.
Grounds for modification
Even if you feel justified in your request, courts will only grant modifications if the resulting changes are in the best interests of the child. Generally, this happens when:
- A child's needs change
- A parent becomes unable or unwilling to provide the necessary level of care
- One or both parents move
- The child requests a change in custody
- A child's safety is at risk
- A parent without custody chooses to seek custody
Know your rights
If you want to modify a visitation plan, or if you have been notified that the other parent wishes to modify a visitation plan, it is crucial that you know your rights and take steps to protect them. With legal support and guidance, you can fight to protect your child and your relationship with your child.