Your Virginia custody order or parenting plan sets all of the ground rules for your shared custody arrangement. You and your ex need to abide by the terms set in that order or run the risk of enforcement actions initiated by the other parent.
However, your parenting plan or custody order won’t necessarily work well for your family forever. Your circumstances will eventually change, and when they do, you may need to update your parenting plan or custody order so that the terms it contains reflect your family’s current needs.
How do you know if it is time to ask for a modification hearing?
Is the existing order no longer supporting the needs of the children?
Your circumstances need to change for you to justify a modification hearing request. Virginia law allows either parent to request a modification when there has been a material change in circumstances. Any situation with direct implications for your children’s daily schedules and needs could be grounds for a modificaiton request.
For example, if your child has started an after-school job or a sport, the existing parenting schedule might no longer give you enough time with them. It’s also possible that you may have noticed they don’t receive adequate care at your ex’s home. Job changes, housing changes and even new relationships can require that the parents sharing custody of minor children in Virginia must update their custody order.
Why an informal agreement might not be enough
In the previously-mentioned scenario where a child’s job or extracurricular involvement affects their time with one parent, it is possible for the former spouses to reach an agreement on their own allowing for a change of the parenting plan. Still, an informal agreement means that your time with your child could be dependent on the mood of your former spouse.
You can cooperate for an uncontested custody modification that can update the court order to reflect your current agreement. An informal agreement leaves you at risk of your ex claiming you are non-compliant or even alleging that you have kidnapped the children by taking them during what is not officially your parenting time. As a final bonus, a custody modification that notably increases your time with the children could lead to a reduction of your child support obligations.
Understanding when you might want to update your custody order can help you navigate the difficulties of modern divorce and co-parenting.