Is it Time to Change the Youngster Custody Settlement?

Custody decisions are usually made at the time of a first divorce to ensure the stability and well-being of underage children. But even the best arrangements rarely work at every stage of a child’s life. School, activities, work schedules, living conditions – all of these things and more will change as children grow and their needs develop. When will you know if it’s time to change your existing custody decision and what steps should you take to make the transition as smooth as possible? We speak to family law attorneys Lisa J. Gill and Leigh Taylor White with the Thomas, White & Gill law firm for their insights and recommendations.

Lisa J. Gill and Leigh Taylor White are family law attorneys with Thomas, White & Gill law firm.

The main reason a parent might want to change an existing order is that due to a substantial and permanent change in circumstances, it no longer meets the child’s needs. If one parent believes that the current schedule is impractical due to material changes – and even if both parents agree that changes are required – they must demonstrate to the court that a change in custody decision is in the best interests of the child or children . “The court will examine whether the circumstances between the parents have changed that have a material impact on the best interests of the child, or whether, if the parents move, the previous schedule is not feasible to best meet the needs of the child”, says Lisa.

When changing an existing custody ordinance, a parent must be able to clearly explain why the current custody ordinance no longer meets the needs of their child. Lisa and Leigh Taylor say parents considering changing their custody decisions should consider two questions:

Is the current custody regulation still working for the benefit of our children?

“Does the current schedule and the specifications in the custody system best meet the emotional, educational, medical and even scheduling requirements of your children? If not why not? Parents should be ready with a detailed explanation and examples, ”says Leigh Taylor.

In some cases one of the parents has to move in order to find a job, so that it is no longer possible to arrange a change of week between the parents. A child who has problems in school may need to go to a different school with a new schedule or develop medical issues that need to be addressed. Or it can be so easy to tailor a visiting schedule that works perfectly for an elementary school age child to one that suits the needs of a teenager with multiple extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, there are also situations that put a child at risk – drug use or neglect, for example. In order for changes to be made, you need documentation that lists the changes in circumstances and can clearly explain why the changes will benefit your children.

Children grow up and their needs change or parents move, which can render a previous schedule unusable. A modified custody decision is often the solution.

As a parent, which solution do I think will best serve my children?

A highly effective custody decision involves creative solutions tailored to the individual needs of your family, as opposed to a “one size fits all” approach. An experienced family law attorney is often essential here, says Lisa. “It is imperative that you find someone who takes the time to really listen to your thoughts and carefully craft an individual parenting plan, either proposed in settlement negotiations or offered to the court at a hearing,” she explains.

A lawyer experienced in family law can also provide insight and perspective – two of the most important gifts you need when dealing with family law issues, adds Leigh Taylor. While it is tempting and only human to see the situation from your own perspective, a lawyer can help you see things outside of your own perspective. Plus, your attorney will have insight into the legal ramifications that you are missing, but which are critical to bringing a clear, coherent case to court.

“Look for an attorney who will listen compassionately to get a clear picture of your children’s unique needs and your specific situation, but who is also honest enough to help you see the bigger picture of your situation,” says Leigh Taylor . “This perspective, combined with a clear understanding of your overall strategy from the start, can significantly reduce the overall stress of the process.”

It is very important to remember that even young children get stressed and any age a child can be afraid of change. Communication is key to keeping your child happy and comfortable during the process. They need reassurance that although their lives may change, a new regime does not mean instability and that no matter what parent’s quarrel, both parents still love and care for their children.

To keep children on an even keel, an empathetic counselor can provide a safe haven for children to express their feelings and gain emotional coping tools. A good family therapist can also provide valuable guidance to parents by helping them see the situation from the child’s perspective. “In most cases, parents don’t intend to harm their child or abuse each other, but they don’t always realize or understand how their children perceive adult actions,” says Lisa.

Navigating the legal process can be overwhelming without a compassionate and dedicated attorney by your side to help you feel part of the process rather than a victim of forces beyond your control.

Maintaining a warm relationship with your ex-spouse can be difficult, especially if you are the one initiating the change, but it’s not impossible. While the fight for your child’s best interests can be emotional, it is important that you do not “badmouth” your ex-spouse or say something directly to your ex that you would not say in front of your child. If you are upset about something that was said to you, take an hour or two off before answering. Sometimes even taking a shorter break can help you calm down and have a more reasonable response.

If an ex-spouse is really trying to provoke you with triggering comments, Leigh Taylor recommends not taking the bait: “If you ignore the bait, someone who fishes after a fight will be kidnapped. In the meantime, you can live in peace knowing that you have done all you can to maintain this important relationship. Repeating the process every time you get triggered can either cool the other, potentially angry person down and become sensible, or get tired of starting an argument with you. Every result is a win. “

At the end of the day, let these ubiquitous t-shirts advise you on “Keep Calm & Carry On”. “It may mean you take the highway more than you’d like, but those who take the highway always do a lot better than those who take the highway,” says Lisa.

Learn more about the services of Thomas, White & Gill on their website. Click here.

This article is sponsored by Thomas, White & Gill. All photographs from Erin Mosher Studios.

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