When a Minnesota family court judge finalized your and your co-parent’s divorce, terms of agreement no doubt included issues pertaining to your children. For instance, you may have agreed to share physical and legal custody of your kids. Then again, perhaps, during negotiations, you determined that one of you would be a custodial parent and the other would have scheduled visitations. Either way, when the judge issued a child custody order, you and your ex both became obligated to adhere to its terms.
A child custody order doesn’t mean the circumstances in your life at the time are always going to be the same. In fact, issues may arise on any given day that spur changes in your daily life, some of which may affect your ability to carry out the terms of agreement in your custody order. The most important thing to remember in such cases is that, unless and until the court issues a modification of the order, both parents must follow the order.
Requesting modification requires a petition
If you have determined that the terms of your child custody order are no longer feasible, it may be possible to change them. To do so, you must file a petition in court to request modification. The judge who is overseeing your case will review your petition and will take numerous factors under consideration to either grant or deny the request. To convince the court that a change is merited, you must show ‘just cause.’
Legitimate reasons for modifying a child custody order
The court always has children’s best interests in mind when making decisions regarding child custody in a divorce. The average family court judge also believes that a sense of normalcy and routine helps kids adapt to life after their parents’ divorce. Therefore, if you ask a judge to modify a custody order, he or she will want you to show just cause, which may include issues such as those shown in the following list:
- Your work schedule has changed, and you’re unable to meet at the designated time and location for custody exchanges.
- Either you or your ex are relocating.
- Your ex continually disregards the existing child custody order.
- You have reason to believe your ex is placing your kids at risk.
- Your ex has been incarcerated or has passed away.
If you demonstrate a legitimate need for wanting to change the terms of your child custody order, the court will carefully consider your request and determine whether modifying the order would be best for your children.
If the issue has arisen because your ex is disregarding the existing order
The court doesn’t look favorably on a parent who is disregarding its orders. If your ex is denying you access to your kids or not showing up for custody exchanges, etc., it is definitely a matter that a family court judge would want to know about.
You are entitled to a fair divorce settlement and a child custody agreement that enables you to provide for your children. You can take steps to protect your rights and their best interests, including requesting child custody modification, as needed.