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Is it time to change up your child custody arrangement?

Over time, people change. Kids grow up; parents start new jobs; families move; people experience changes in their health. These changes can affect numerous aspects of our lives, and adjusting to them can be tricky.

For instance, for parents who share custody of their child, changes in your circumstances could also warrant a modification of your existing order for custody and access.

When can we change an order?

Courts put custody agreements in place to protect parental rights and a child’s well-being. These agreements reflect several factors, including parental fitness and a child’s needs.

However, the factors that determine the outcome of a child custody matter are not constant. After having an original order in place for some time, parents may decide that their original order is no longer appropriate given new circumstances.

Thus, changing an order can be necessary. Some examples of when you might vary a parenting plan include:

  • A parent moving much closer or much further from the other parent
  • A child needing considerably more or less supervision
  • A parent developing or recovering from a severe illness
  • Significant shifts in a parent’s availability
  • A child getting old enough to have a well-informed preference for their living situation that differs from the existing arrangement
  • In light of parental misconduct, including substance abuse, incarceration or violence
  • After several years have passed since the original order was put in place

In these and similar scenarios, making changes to your parenting plan can be wise.

Tips for a smooth transition

Whether the changes in your circumstances and parenting plan are positive or negative, they can dramatically impact your life. However, there are ways to make the transition to a new arrangement smoother for you and your children.

One way to do this is for parents to agree on the changes. Those who can cooperate in making necessary changes can be better positioned to create a satisfactory plan faster and more peacefully.

It is also critical for parents to have the courts approve of any modifications made to a parenting agreement. This approval allows them to enforce the order. 

Finally, prioritizing communication will be critical in adjusting to a new arrangement. Effective communication between parents makes it easier to navigate any confusion or questions that arise during the transition. And talking to your child about the changes can help them feel safe and supported throughout an otherwise tumultuous time.

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