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Warning signs you need to revisit and update your custody order

When the courts finally issued a divorce decree and parenting plan for your family, you likely felt a profound sense of relief. Even if you weren’t thrilled with the specific terms set in the documents, you were likely glad to put the contention of the divorce behind you and focus on establishing a new routine for your family.

For the vast majority of divorced families in Virginia, the parents will share custody of the kids. The courts or the parents themselves create a specific parenting plan addressing all kinds of issues. Still, the specific terms explained in your parenting plan and custody order will not necessarily work for your family indefinitely.

You may need to revisit and update your parenting plan when your family circumstances change. Watching for these warning signs can help you know when it’s time to talk to your ex about a custody modification.

One parent has entered into a new relationship or started dating

It is common for some couples to split up parenting time on specific days throughout the week. A parent who works from home or has work hours that perfectly overlap with school hours may assume physical custody over the children during the week, while the parent with the more unforgiving work schedule may take the children on the weekends.

That can work for some time, but when the desire arises to start new relationships, that weekend time will become important for meeting new people or building a new relationship. You may need to discuss alternating weeks and weekends in order to give both parents the freedom to socialize while still playing a role in the lives of the kids.

The kids aren’t happy with the terms of the parenting plan

As children mature in a family split by divorce, they can sometimes decide that they prefer to spend time with one parent over the other. This kind of personal preference often becomes an issue during adolescence and the teen years, when the children may perceive one parent as more difficult to deal with than the other.

Whether they just don’t want to listen to dad jokes or they want to stay at the home closer to their circle of friends for socialization purposes, the kids in the family may begin resisting scheduled visitation or parenting time with one of their parents. When this happens, both of the parents and the courts may need to review the terms of the plan to make it more appropriate to the social and emotional needs of the children.

You feel like you just don’t see enough of the kids

In all of the stress and painful emotion that arises in a divorce, people can lose focus on the most important things, trying instead to merely survive until the conflict resolves. Not looking at the big picture could mean not pushing for a fair share of parenting time with your kids.

If you are now aware that the amount of time you have with your kids just isn’t enough for you or them, it may be time to ask for a modification that allocates more parenting time to you.

J. Emmette Pilgreen IV
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