If you are divorced, separated, or a single parent and your custody or visitation order is not working, what do you do?
If there are already court orders in place, you will need to have them changed. This is done by filing a Motion for Modification. The Motion has to satisfy certain minimal legal standards. Disagreements about child custody and visitation can be among the most contentious and difficult issues for a family. Focus needs to be kept on the best interests of the children.
To the extent it is possible for parents to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that is the preferable outcome. Legal custody, primary residential custody and parental access and visitation all have to be considered along with the children’s schedules, financial, education, medical and religious needs.
If an agreement cannot be reached about a needed modification of parenting orders, the case may have to be decided by a judge. The interests of the child as well as the parents will have to be represented. A child’s interests are represented in court either by an attorney appointed for the child by the court or a GAL, or both. A GAL is an individual appointed by the court to act as a guardian ad litem.
Generally, when an agreement cannot be reached, a parent will need a lawyer too effectively and persuasively advocate for them. Where an agreement can be reached, it is generally best to have that agreement drafted by an experienced family law attorney before it is signed and before it is filed with the court.