After the divorce finalizes and you start building a new life, changes eventually happen. When you have children, some of those changes can affect the custody arrangements.
Although SB35, which would require the courts to default to equal, or approximately equal, parenting time, has yet to get signed into law, the courts often still presume a child’s best interest involves equitable time with parents. When circumstances change, modifying the arrangements comes with some nuances to ensure fair time continues.
1. When can I request a modification to custody arrangements?
A number of reasons allow you to file for a parenting plan modification. Keep in mind that any changes must directly relate to the child’s best interest. If you get a new job with different hours, you must present evidence regarding how the change in circumstances will affect a child. When the parents have friction, it requires additional legal steps.
2. Do I need to modify the parenting plan?
For exes who can work together and agree to a parenting plan change, you can file the agreement with the courts. This may or may not lead to a formal hearing. If you and your spouse can not agree, each parent will need to present their case to the judge.
3. What steps do I need to take?
In situations in which you cannot agree, it will require going through the legal process. This includes filing the initial modification request. In some instances, the courts may request you complete a parent education program to help resolve the dispute. Once filed, the process may involve a pre-trial hearing and trial to determine the outcome.
Child custody modifications happen very frequently, especially as children’s needs change as they grow. Preparing for this eventuality may help make the process easier.