It can be difficult to develop a child custody agreement after a divorce, even if the couple generally agrees on how to divide responsibilities. When the couple disagrees, child custody disputes can be one of the most difficult aspects of separation. However, even after the court approves a child custody order, the parents of the child may have to regularly revisit the child custody order to make sure it still makes sense for the children.
A “final” order is never final when it comes to child custody and a child's well-being. There are a number of reasons a child custody order should be modified or amended. One possible reason for modifying child custody orders that affects all families is because children get older. Families might not necessarily revisit the child custody order every birthday but every couple years it might be something to consider.
As a child gets older, they continue to change physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their interests may change, and the things they excel at may also evolve. This may include school subjects, sports, performing arts, and career plans. The way custody is shared and the child's primary residence at the age of 5 may not still be in the child's best interests at the age of 16.
For example, both parents may agree that it is better for their young child to move in with the parent living in the suburbs, where the child can walk to school, ride their bike, and play team sports in a safe neighborhood. However, as the child enters high school, they may begin to take a more serious interest in singing and acting. There may be more opportunities in a bigger city where the child can attend a school for the arts.
Ideally, the parents with shared custody will agree on any changes to their custody plan. As the child gets older, the parents may also want to consider the wishes of the child, and develop a custody plan that is in the child's best interests. However, when the family does decide to change the arrangements, it can be beneficial to introduce changes slowly and evaluate the new arrangements.
In some cases, especially where the parents still have a contentious relationship, one parent may try and use any change in circumstance to seek to modify the child custody order. In general, the court will not consider a modification to the child custody order unless there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the child, and, in the case of a dispute, the court will still rule in the best interests of the child.
Jerkins Family Law
If you have questions about making changes to a child custody order, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. JFL is committed to providing the passionate representation you need. We understand child custody plans are important to the well-being of your children and changes may be necessary as the children get older. Visit our dedicated child custody page and contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.