Once the child custody and parenting terms of divorce have been finalized, the entire family must go through a distressing period of adjustment. Losing valuable time with family members is not easy, but it is a necessary part of divorce.
It is not uncommon for formerly-divorced clients to return to our offices to ask our Minnesota child custody lawyers to file a request to modify the custody arrangements.
Certainly, some situations require such a change, but the courts do not easily agree to modify child custody without very good reasons. The good news is that there are ways to achieve desired results without making such a dramatic change to the terms of divorce.
Courts Only Modify Custody Arrangements in the Best Interests of the Children
As detailed in Section 518.18, Modification of Order, in the MN statutes, the courts do not take requests for modification of child custody orders lightly. Many provisions are involved in these decisions, but some common reasons why the courts would approve such requests are as follows:
- When the courts believe that children’s present environment endangers their physical or emotional health
- When a parent has displayed persistent and willful denial or interference with parenting time
- When the courts find that a long-distance move of the current custodial parent is not within the best interests of the children
- When both parents agree in writing to a change in custody arrangements
Assuming that both parents are meeting their responsibilities under the terms of the custody arrangement — and that no unusual circumstances arise — the courts are unlikely to agree to a change. Still, while judges take a hard line on child custody, this does not mean that judges are unwilling to make other changes to the terms of divorce.
A Focus on Desired End Results Can Yield Success
In most divorce cases, both parents share legal custody of the children. Regardless of residential considerations, they should be equally involved in all important decisions regarding such concerns as education, medical issues and more. In reality, dissatisfaction with the terms pertaining to children typically points to parenting time.
In some situations, parents simply want more time with their children, and the children want more time with the non-residential parent. In fact, it is not unusual for children to act out by misbehaving in school or even running away from home. These are definitely serious issues, but a change in custody generally does not resolve them. The better solution may be to seek modification of parenting time.
A Minnesota child custody attorney is essential in helping parents develop initial parenting plans that work well for the entire family, but only time can tell if the plan is truly effective. Even though the courts generally want the custody terms to remain intact, they expect to make modifications in parenting time — particularly since the needs of the children change as they grow older.
Of course, even divorced parents dedicated to parental cooperation should avoid making informal changes to the terms of divorce. By law, parents must meet all terms of divorce until the courts approve changes. To ensure that all changes are approved by the MN courts, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.