Step parents are usually thrown into the world of child custody without much preparation. Some step parents are used to the language and process of child custody, but others are diving into something totally unknown. To help with step parenting, here is a guide for parents who want a custody modification.
A custody modification is a change to the child custody order. The child custody order comes about when the parents go to court with a custody agreement or parenting plan. The parents can work together on their plan and the court will usually just accept it. Or, the parents can both present their case to the court and the judge will make the final decision about the custody agreement. Either way, the hearing ends with a custody agreement being accepted by the court. This agreement is made in the child custody order. The order makes all of the terms and conditions in the agreement legally binding. Thus, there are legal ramifications if a parent doesn’t follow the visitation schedule or breaks one of the provisions.
So, a custody modification is making a change in the order so something else is legally binding. There are several parts to a custody agreement that might need a modification. The custody and visitation schedule are the big part of the parenting plan, and this is usually what parents want to change. Incorporated in the custody and visitation schedule is the holiday schedule, vacation time, and other special events.
When a divorce parent gets married, that parent and the step parent may need some modification to the schedule. Perhaps they want more time with the children, or there are other obligations which mean the visitation days need to change. The first step for a modification is to talk to the other parent. If both parents agree to the change, the process is very easy. The simply submit some papers to the court and they become part of the order.
If the other parent doesn’t agree to the change, the parent and step parent can file a petition for a custody modification. Both sides will present their case in court and the parent who wants a change should be prepared to explain in detail why the change is necessary and how it will benefit the child. It’s very important to show the court why the modification helps the child, especially if it is a big change, because the courts won’t disrupt the child’s life without reason.
A step parent and parent can look over their current custody order and see if it is workable. If it isn’t, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem to get it changed. Hopefully they can get it modified so everyone can focus on developing a relationship with the child.