It's no surprise how closely the family court system monitors the treatment of minor children in a divorce settlement. Divorce can have a huge impact on children and the courts have taken measures to help assure that they don't become victims of their parent's actions. This means tight child support enforcement, controlled visitation schedules and parenting plans that attempt to play fair with each parent.
There is one more important aspect of how the courts deal with issues involving children and divorce, and that is the way that orders and provisions related to divorce issues are never considered closed. Read on to find out why that is and how you might take advantage of it.
The best-laid plans
Depending on how old your child was at the time of the divorce there may come a time when they begin to chafe at the parenting plan. These plans, so carefully laid-out years ago, may now be stale and in need of an update. The court system recognizes the need for issues dealing with custody, child support and visitation to be changed when needed. That is not to say that you can petition the court for minor or frivolous reasons to make changes, but as a child gets older changes should be considered.
The best interest of the child
Another important issue is the reason for making the change. The court will only allow alterations if the change benefits the child, and that means it might not necessarily benefit the parent. However, if you and the other parent can agree on changes that are in the best interest of the child, then the court might also agree. In many cases, making a change benefits everyone if it means less teenage angst and drama around the house.
What should change and why?
With a child approaching the tween and teen years there are several factors at work. A growing need for more independence could mean allowing the child to spend time with each parent on a less-stringent schedule and more in line with their wishes or schedule. This age group often has more after-school lessons, sports, volunteer activities, and social obligations than ever before and factoring in how to get from house A to house B may be the tipping point.
Be cautious, however
Not only will the family court take a hard look at the changes, but you should too. For example, is your child trying to spend more time with the more permissive parent or the one who is not as likely to punish bad behavior? Take a look and try to determine the true motivations behind the changes the child is asking to be made. You should also ensure that the child still gets to spend time with both parents regardless of the changes made to visitation.
Speak to your divorce lawyer to find out if a visitation and custody alteration hearing is in your future.