Why Virginia parents may need to modify their custody order

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Child Custody And Parenting Time

Creating a custody order is often a lengthy process. Parents may spend weeks negotiating with each other before they arrive at terms that they both agree are reasonable. Most people feel relieved when they finally have a custody order in place.

Even if they are not fully satisfied with the terms in the order, they adjust to the challenges of shared custody over time. Having predictable arrangements is beneficial for the children and can also help parents minimize the conflict they may have with one another.

Occasionally, co-parents in Virginia decide that they need to adjust or modify their existing custody order. When might a custody modification be necessary for parents who share custody in Virginia?

When there is more conflict than flexibility

Family circumstances change after parents begin living separately from one another. What works initially after a separation or divorce may not be the best solution as family circumstances evolve. Parents always have the option of making minor one-time adjustments to their parenting arrangements as unique situations arise. However, they may end up arguing over those adjustments. When parents fight because they have to consistently make changes to the custody arrangement, it may be time to explore modifying the order.

When one parent doesn’t meet the children’s needs

Not everyone steps up when they share parenting time and decision-making authority. Some people struggle to acquire new skills that make them effective parents. Others who have parented well in the past may start struggling because of substance abuse or mental health challenges. When one parent doesn’t feed the children or engages in inappropriate conduct toward them, such as abusive discipline, modifying the custody order may be necessary.

When schedules and living arrangements change

Virginia allows for custody modifications after a significant change in family circumstances. If the schedules for the adults or children change, that might justify revisiting the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. If one parent decides to move, that could make a massive change in the division of parental responsibilities necessary. Parents can theoretically cooperate with each other for uncontested modifications. They can propose the exact terms they would like to adopt to the courts and have a judge review and approve those changes. Other times, they may need to litigate and convince a judge that a modification is necessary.

Understanding when a custody modification could be beneficial can help those in a co-parenting situation. Those who keep their custody orders up to date may have an easier time sharing parental responsibilities and meeting the needs of their children accordingly.

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