The process of negotiating a parenting plan can take weeks. Even if you have a judge make the big decisions about custody for your family, they will have to learn about your schedules and your family dynamics to put together the best possible custody order.
The goal should always be to do what is in the best interests of your children. While you may not be particularly happy with the terms included in your custody order, the chances are good that you and your ex can make those arrangements work.
However, there are times when parents need to go back to the Virginia family courts and request a modification hearing. Such hearings can result in a formal change to your custody order. What are some of the warning signs that a modification is necessary for your family’s parenting plan?
You need to make changes to the schedule frequently
Parenting plans often include very thorough descriptions of how the parents will divide parenting time. In theory, you shouldn’t have to make any changes or modifications to the schedule.
As your family situation continues to change and your children grow older, your original parenting plan may require some adjustments. Moving up to a more challenging school and adding sports and part-time jobs to the schedule may require that you revisit your custody arrangements to avoid conflicts.
You’ve made major life changes
Did you just switch to a new career, get remarried or buy a house after living with your parents for years following the divorce? Your circumstances at the time that you file for divorce have a major effect on what a judge feels would be best for your kids. When you have improved your situation, a judge may determine that your improved circumstances mean it would benefit the children to spend more time with you.
You have safety or health concerns
Have your children started coming home from the other parent’s house with bruises or exhausted and hungry because they didn’t receive food as they should? When one parent believes that the other has not met the children’s needs or has become abusive toward them, documentation of that abuse or neglect could convince a family law judge that it is time to update the existing custody order to protect the children.
Recognizing when you may have grounds to file a request for a custody modification hearing will help you better protect and support your children.