When Modifications to Child Custody or Visitation Rights may be Warranted

Child custody experts and psychologists know how important it is for a child to have a strong relationship with both of his/her parents. Thus, family courts that see both spouses as fit parents, then the decision is usually joint physical custody, wherein both spouses are given equal time with their children. Joint custody is, of course, a special case as the normal decision is to grant custody to only one parent (whom the court sees as the most able to cultivate a positive relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent). Whatever decision is made, though, judges, in all U.S. states, consider one common factor: the best interest of the child.

There are times, though, when court decisions do not bring about its projected outcomes as some parents, either the one who has custody or the one with visitation rights, fail to live up to the court’s expectations, becoming neglectful in their obligations either in the proper performance of their function or in recognizing and respecting the other parent’s rights and personhood.

This failure is legally termed as visitation or custody interference, a circumstance that can force a court to modify its original decision. The following acts are considered forms of this interference:

  • Denying the non-custodial parent to enjoy his/her visitation rights in order to estrange the child from him/her.
  • Severing a child’s affections for the non-custodial parent through ill-talks, false accusations and/or negative comments
  • Consciously and systematically brainwashing the child to turn him/her against the non-custodial parent. This negative attitude is known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)
  • The custodial parent not complying with a divorce decree stipulation which says that he/she should inform the non-custodial parent about any plan of moving to another city or state, or of changing residence. Many custodial parents actually relocate to a distant location secretly in order to keep the children away from the non-custodial parent and so have the children fully to himself/herself.

Besides visitation or custody interference, other reasons that also warrant modifications to child custody arrangements include:

  • The custodial parent becoming drug or alcohol dependent, thus, making him/her an unfit parent
  • The custodial parent getting married again
  • The custodial parent passing away or developing a health problem that can restrict his/her duty in caring for the child
  • The child, upon turning 12, requests for a change in living arrangements. A court may, however, deny this request is if it sees that a change will not be in the child’s best interest

According to the website of the Arenson Law Group, PC, “Though your child custody agreement may have suited you and your former partner at the time of your divorce, the ever-changing circumstances of life can make these agreements unfitting when defining when and how you may see your child. Bearing this in mind, you may need to modify your child custody agreement in order to preserve the best interests of your child.

Thus if your circumstances have changed and you would like to talk about the legal work that is necessary to make modifications to child custody agreements, consulting with a child custody attorney may help you address your concerns and discuss what legal rights you may have to modify your agreement.”

On this same issue of modifying custodial or visitation rights, a Lewisville divorce lawyer says that it is possible to have an existing order modified should the situation change.

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