If you divorced when one or more of your children were very young, within just a few years you can wind up with a custody order that is ill-suited to meet your family’s changing needs. As kids get older, they develop their own interests. Many get involved with sports, dance or cheer (or all three) and have jam-packed schedules that preclude abiding by the order put in place when they were still toddlers.
What’s a parent to do? You don’t want to get ruled into court on contempt charges for failing to follow the old order, yet its terms are no longer tenable. Do you have any options?
Reach accord with your co-parent
The best-case scenario is that your child’s other parent is reasonable and recognizes that the order is outdated. A family law attorney can draft a new custody order as a consent judgment between the parties, file it with the court and obtain the judge’s signature, making it supersede your outdated former order.
Ask the court to modify the order
Ours is not a perfect world. In some cases, co-parents are unable to get along with one another well enough to cooperate with the drafting of a new custody order. In these cases, an attorney for either parent can file a motion with the court to modify the existing custody order.
This likely will result in a hearing, with both co-parents able to express their reasons for the change (or that it remains the same). Then, the family law court will issue its ruling.
What is a just cause for modification?
Simply that the children are much older and involved with school and extracurricular activities or even part-time jobs can be reason enough to modify the order. A change in the parents’ job status, a move or even a remarriage could convince the court that a modification is the wisest move at this time.
Remember that all orders must reflect the children’s best interests. Learning more about custody modifications can clarify your path forward.