When you crafted your custody and visitation agreement with your ex-spouse, you knew exactly what would work for each of you. For the most part, things have gone along just fine.
Until they didn’t. A personal crisis has thrown your normal routine into disarray and you desperately need to revise the existing custody plan.
What can you do? Generally speaking, the courts prefer not to make major changes to a custody plan that are only temporary. They also usually limit how often official changes to a parenting plan can be made. Ideally, they hope that parents will work together, outside of court, to negotiate small or brief changes in the normal parenting plan.
If, for example, you simply aren’t feeling well when it’s time for your visitation week and you’re concerned that your child might get stick if they stay with you, you may approach your ex-spouse directly to see if they’re willing to trade weeks — for your child’s sake. Similarly, if you’re heading out of town with your child and you won’t be back until the day after you’re supposed to transfer custody back to your ex, you can negotiate to trade another day — at your ex’s convenience. It’s smart to always approach these negotiations as a trade-off so that nobody feels cheated of their time.
On the other hand, if your ex-spouse isn’t cooperative, you have fewer options. The custody plan is a legal court order, so you can’t choose to disobey it without significant consequences. You may, however, decide to seek an emergency custody modification if you genuinely believe that your child is endangered by the current plan.
If you aren’t sure if your situation meets the criteria for an emergency modification of custody, contact an attorney to discuss your case right away.