For those who are divorced and also the parents of a minor child, the custody and visitation agreement that was hammered out during your divorce may have been working just fine; until it doesn't. The family court system and judges, and you and your ex all know how fast children can grow and change, and at some point your great plan may need to be updated to accommodate your maturing child, particularly those who are entering the preteen or teen years. To get more information about altering your child custody and visitation plans, read on.

Is it time for a change? You are likely quite proud of your growing child, and perhaps also alarmed and perplexed by their seemingly sudden need for more independence. As children progress through to their teen years, a natural "pulling away" from parental rules occurs, and it's just as natural that they should balk at an arrangement that was made some years ago before they became so grown up.

Even younger children are extremely busy little people nowadays, with school functions, sports, extracurricular classes and a blooming social life. Problems can begin to pop up when the parent assigned to custody or visitation cannot make that travel soccer game or band audition. What is needed now is more flexibility in the schedule, and, as parents, you may even want to consider a complete change in what parent now has primary physical custody.

Should your agreement be changed? While some revolt and chaos is to be expected, even if you do everything in your power to accommodate your child's schedule, the time may come when you want to make some legal changes. The family judges know all too well that anything connected to a minor child is not only always an "open" item, but that a constant monitoring that puts the credo "the best interest of the child" at the forefront must be followed. In other words, changes may be made, but only for the right reasons.

The best interest of the child: You must understand that the judge wants to do what is best for the child, but that may not necessarily also be what is best for the parents. Your child is old enough to have some input into this situation, so take their wishes into consideration. The judge will want to know, in detail, why the old agreement is no longer working, so be prepared for this by looking at:

  • The parental fitness of the prospective custodial parent.
  • The home environment of the prospective custodial parent.
  • Whether or this request is the result of the prospective custodial parent being more lenient on rules.
  • Whether all parties agree to the change.

Speak to a family law attorney, like Father's Rights for Equality in Divorce, for more information.