Solid Reasons to Change Your Custody & Visitation Schedule
Your life is constantly changing. Sometimes, it changes significantly enough that your existing child custody or visitation schedule no longer seems to be working. But how do you know if you have enough cause to be granted a modification?
A judge will change a custody or visitation order only if it’s in the best interest of the child. While you may believe that a custody modification is necessary, you must have solid proof before it can be granted. Here are the most common reasons to change a custody or visitation schedule:
1. Your Child is in Danger
If you can prove that your child is in danger while at their other parent’s house, you may be able to limit or even eliminate that parent’s contact with the child.
Domestic violence at the hands of the other parent is not the only threat that may be used as grounds for a custody or visitation change. Verbal abuse can be just as bad for a child. The child could also be subject to abuse from friends, family members, or even the new spouse of your child’s other parent. A lack of supervision can also have serious consequences for your child’s health and well-being — especially if the child is very young.
If you believe that your child is in danger at your ex’s home, gather as much evidence as possible to present before the court. The judge may also consider the child’s fear of staying in that parent’s home, and they may bring in experts for examination as well.
2. One Parent Has Become an Unfit Guardian
A child needs their parent to be of sound mind and body. If one parent is not, then it might be necessary to revoke or change that parent’s custody or visitation rights. If your child’s other parent has become an alcoholic or drug addict, for example, you may be able to prove that they are an unfit guardian. You may need to get their visitation rights revoked if they can’t even stay sober long enough to spend an afternoon with your child.
Physical disability or the development of a serious mental disorder may also be grounds for a visitation or custody order modification. After all, if someone can’t take care of themselves, how can they take care of a child?
3. One Parent Creates an Unstable Environment for the Child
An unstable environment can take a serious toll on a child’s mental well-being. If a parent is constantly moving, constantly changing jobs, or has unstable working hours, it can be bad for the child’s development. It’s hard enough for a child to go back and forth between two houses without one of those houses changing all the time. This instability may also affect where the child goes to school, if they have enough to eat, and how much they actually get to see the parent they’re staying with. If the child is young enough, constantly changing romantic partners may also have a negative impact on the child’s mental state.
A judge usually won’t award custody unless a parent has a stable job and stable housing. If this stability is lost, it may be grounds for a child custody modification.
4. A Parent Has Achieved More Stability
While instability may lead to a reduction in the amount a parent can see a child, stabilization may let a parent appeal to see their child more. If a parent can prove that they now have a stable job, have stable housing, and are taking any necessary psychiatric medication, they may be able to see their child more. Achieving stability may even allow a parent to change from only having visitation rights to being a custodial parent.
5. One Parent is Moving
When two parents live near each other, it can make it easy to implement custody and visitation schedules. However, if one parent is relocating, it can complicate things.
A parent can’t just move a child out of the area, even if they have primary custody. It’s important to bring any proposed relocation before a judge before it happens. The judge will determine whether or not the move is in the best interest of the child and how to make any custody or visitation arrangements work after the move.
6. The Needs of the Child Have Changed
The needs of a toddler are vastly different from the needs of a high schooler. As a child ages, what’s best for them may change, therefore warranting a change in their custody order. The child may also reach an age where they can decide for themselves which parent they want to live with.
Other changes besides the child aging may necessitate a custody or visitation modification. If the child develops a physical or mental disability, for example, more consistent living arrangements may be necessary. If you can prove that an existing custody or visitation arrangement no longer works, you may be able to get it modified.
7. One Parent Constantly Violates the Current Schedule
A custody or visitation schedule only works if both parents stick to it. If one parent constantly violates the given order, then something needs to change.
Your children deserve to have stability and predictability in their lives. If one parent promises to spend time with them and doesn’t show up or constantly cancels, that’s not good for you or the children. If the other parent doesn’t let you have your kids when you’re supposed to, that’s a problem as well. When modifying a custody or visitation order, the judge will look at the underlying reasons for why the current schedule isn’t working and look for a better solution that puts your children’s well-being first.
8. The Other Parent Has Died
What many parents don’t realize is that sole custody does not automatically revert to the living parent when the other parent dies. The judge will still need to determine whether the living parent and not a third party — such as a grandparent or other relative — is better suited to step in for the deceased parent. It can be even more complicated if the deceased parent remarried before passing away.
Establishing a custody arrangement can be tricky. Modifying an existing custody order can be even more difficult. If you think you need a change in your existing child custody arrangement, contact the family law attorneys at Setzer Law Firm. We can discuss the change in your circumstances and help you determine if you have a good case for modification. Give us a call today or visit our Southlake office for dedicated legal advice.