When you were initially divorced, it may have appeared that everything was settled when it came to timesharing and custody of your children. Whether you worked out a time sharing arrangement amicably and by agreement, or whether it took months (or longer) of fighting, you finally came to an agreement as to where the child or children would be, and when.
The passing of time may have changed things, however. Maybe your ex is not taking the children when he or she is supposed to, or maybe your ex is doing something that he or she was not doing at the time of your divorce, that you think affects the children. Can you change your time sharing arrangement with your ex spouse once it has been set?
Showing a Modification is Needed
To alter your custody arrangement, you will have to show something has changed since the time you initially entered into your time sharing agreement. That something must be major, and it usually must be something that you did not know, or which did not exist, at the time you made your initial agreement.
Showing that circumstances have changed can be a heavy burden, and it is on the party asking for the modification to prove the changed circumstances.
Certainly, serious allegations like abuse or drug usage by a parent will warrant a change in custody and timesharing, but beyond that, the court will usually look to what is in the best interest of the child.
If one or both parents move, where transporting the child creates a hardship, changed circumstances that warrant modification may exist. If a parent were to move so far as to make normal time sharing impossible, an arrangement may have to be made whereby the parent that moved out of town has unified blocks of time with the child, when the child is not in school.
Showing one parent refuses to, or cannot comply with the existing schedule can also justify a modification, as long as the non-compliance is permanent, ongoing, and significant—missing or skipping visitation on a sporadic basis may not be sufficient. If the inability to comply with visitation is due to something out of a parent’s control, such as a change in working hours, a new schedule should be able to be made.
Factors That are Not Considered
In most cases, modifications will not be granted for purely subjective reasons. For example, the fact that one parent may not like their ex’s new boyfriend or girlfriend, or the fact that one parent may not like the way the other parent is raising the child when he or she has visitation will not justify a modification, absent some showing that the child is being harmed.
Rarely will the opinion of the child be considered, but where the child was very young when the time sharing agreement was drawn up, and now is older, the Court can consider the desires of the child to some extent.
Get help if you have a problem with child custody, visitation or time sharing, whether you are getting divorced or not. Contact The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help and guidance in your family law case.