Parents either negotiate with each other to settle time-sharing concerns and other parenting matters or they rely on a family law judge to put together a viable custody order for their family. Once there is an order on record, parents are required to follow the guidelines of that order.
Typically, there will be a specific allocation of time-sharing rights, as well as some degree of decision-making authority granted for each parent. The adults in the family should strive to cooperate with one another to act in the best interest of their children.
Unfortunately, many adults will eventually come to the realization that their custody order doesn’t meet their family’s needs anymore. A custody modification officially changes the order on record with the state. The three warning signs below are all potential indicators that people may need to go back to family court and formalize a mutually-agreeable modification or ask for a formal custody update.
A significant shift in relationships
Perhaps the oldest child in the family has begun puberty and now has a very strange relationship with the parent of the opposite sex. Maybe one of the parents has started dating, and that new relationship has caused a lot of tension and resentment. When the dynamics in the family have shifted significantly and have led to a lot of conflict, it may sometimes be necessary to adjust the time-sharing arrangements for the family to make things easier for the children while still preserving both of their parental relationships.
Drastic changes to the schedule
One parent finishing a degree and going to work will alter when they are available to parent the children. Young adults moving on from middle school to high school will have vastly different daily schedules and support needs. The changes that naturally occur as the family moves on from the divorce or separation of the parents will potentially make the existing time-sharing arrangements obsolete and necessitate a major overhaul of the custody order.
A demonstrated inability to comply
There are some parents who will try to harm the other parent in the family by interfering in the relationship they have with the children. They may refuse to connect phone calls or turn someone away when they show up for parenting time. There are also parents who consistently fail to show up for their time with the children or who are unable to meet the children’s needs due to drug addiction or mental health struggles. In scenarios where parents cannot or will not abide by the existing custody order, pursuing a modification of the custody arrangements may be the best solution.
Recognizing when it may be time to ask the courts to revisit a family’s division of parental rights and responsibilities could help people better manage their obligations after a divorce or non-marital split from their child’s other parent.