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5 Tips to Handle Changes in Child Custody Arrangement

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Child custody arrangements can be brutal. Depending on work schedules and the judge you get, you could end up with a custody arrangement that is just plain difficult. If you aren’t on excellent terms with your ex, they may not be willing to accommodate you outside of strictly following the court-ordered plan.

In a situation like this, the best action is to return to court to request changes. However, altering a custody agreement isn’t always easy. 

Here’s how you can make the entire process as smooth as possible.

1. Have an attorney handle your custody changes

When you need to request changes to your custody arrangement through the court, it’s in your best interest to hire a family law attorney. They’ll know precisely how to address your situation to get the judge to understand why your proposed custody changes are necessary. For example, you might struggle to explain a complicated situation to the judge, but a family law attorney will have all the right words.

Having an attorney reduces stress and anxiety and will prevent you from being overly emotional, ultimately working in your favor. The last thing you want to do is react in the courtroom, and if things get heated between you and your ex, you need a lawyer.

 2. Always do what’s best for your child

Since a custody agreement is always centered on the children involved, prioritize your child’s needs. This will always be the foundation of a workable child custody arrangement because it meets your child’s needs.

You and your ex will likely have to change your lives and routines to make a custody agreement work. That’s just par for the course.

 3. Don’t wait to discuss a move with your ex

If moving is why you need to change your custody arrangement, don’t wait to discuss it with your ex. Give them as much advance notice as possible so they know to expect changes.

You should work something out temporarily before you get a court order, and the more notice you can give them, the better. 

For instance, if you had to move for a job and can no longer pick your child up from school on Wednesdays, talk to your ex immediately so your child isn’t left stranded and your ex doesn’t get mad. You can sort the details out in court to get a new arrangement, but don’t drop significant changes on your ex at the last minute.

 4. Know why judges approve custody order changes

While you can’t just tell the court you want to change your custody plan for no good reason, there are several specific reasons judges approve changes.

For example:

  • Both parents want a change
  • One or both parents need to move
  • Changes in a work schedule
  • The child has preferences
  • Your child had to change schools
  • One parent is acting poorly. For instance, they might be alienating their child from the other parent.
  • Abuse and/or neglect
  • Someone isn’t following the current custody order

These are just some of the primary reasons judges will approve a custody plan, and this list is not exhaustive. For example, sometimes a change in income is a good enough reason to alter a custody plan.

 If your needs or your child’s needs change, most reasonable requests will be granted.

 5. Try to be at peace with your ex

No matter how you go about changing your child’s custody plan, the more at peace you are with your ex during the process, the better. Don’t let your child see you argue with your ex over their custody plan. They might feel like it’s their fault you’re fighting in the first place.

When your child is around, keep your disagreements to yourself, and don’t engage in any emotional battles with your ex. Your child is already going to be experiencing distress from having to switch houses, so keep their burden light by not adding to that.

 Speak up, but also be agreeable.

For the sake of your child, speak up when a custody arrangement isn’t working, but be agreeable to alternative solutions that can work. For instance, if you need to change the days or times you take your child, compromise with your ex to accommodate their schedule, even if it means changing your work schedule. The best custody arrangements work for both parents and the children involved.

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