When you and your child's other parent split up, the court usually hands down a custody order to provide guidelines around how you divide up parenting responsibilities. However, if you're like many parents, you eventually find that the original order simply does not fit your lives anymore.
If this rings true for your, you share that conflict with many parents. Child custody plans written for children at a certain age may not apply to their needs after even a matter of months, depending on the child. Similarly, you may find that the other parent does not abide by the order, or that changes in your own circumstances make abiding by the order unreasonably difficult.
It may relieve you to learn that it is possible to request modification to your custody order. For the courts, this is a very common action, and you can achieve it fairly simply under favorable conditions. Even if the matter is a point of conflict for you and your child's other parent, the court can still help you obtain the modifications you need.
Parents who seek modifications to custody orders regularly find that the guidance of an experienced attorney greatly increases the likelihood of their success in any matter surrounding child custody. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that your rights and priorities remain in focus as you seek a fair update to your child custody order.
Work with the court, not around it
Many parents take matters into their own hands and work out a "gentleman's agreement" that discards the court order in favor of something more workable (or simply what the custodial parent prefers).
It is far wiser to work with the court instead of working around it. If you consistently act outside of the court order, your child's other parent may choose to document your actions and use them to argue to the court that you should receive some form of reprimand. This punishment may mean that you actually lose some of your privileges. Even if you don't think your ex is likely to do this, it is safer to avoid making yourself vulnerable.
If both parents agree about changes to a custody order, courts are generally willing to approve the changes without much hassle. Once the new order arrives, both parties can move forward in confidence.
You may have to fight for the modification
In some cases, one parent is unwilling to agree to the changes the other parent suggests. If you need to alter the agreement because of a change in life circumstances, or if you believe that your custody order treats you unfairly, you can petition the court to modify your custody agreement.
In this process, your child's other parent may object to the changes, so the process may draw out. It is always wise to build a strong legal team to help protect your rights and privileges as a parent.