One of the most contentious aspects of divorce and post-divorce matters involves child custody and parenting time or visitation. At some juncture following the issuance of a divorce decree establishing initial custody and parenting time order, odds are significant that the noncustodial parent may want to alter the visitation schedule. There are a number of key factors to bear in mind when it comes to adding more parenting time for a noncustodial parent.
Custody and Parenting Time Standard
Across the United States, individual states utilize a common standard when it comes to child custody and parenting time or visitation. The best interests of the child standard are utilized when custody and parenting time is established, changed, or terminated.
The best interest of a child standard necessitates that each case is viewed individually. A one-size-fits-all standard is not applied by a court in making custody or parenting time decisions. Rather, a court considers a variety of factors that include the current residential situation of the parents as well as the physical, mental, and emotional health of the parties. Indeed, a court is likely to weigh and balance many different factors in reaching a decision regarding what is in the best interests of a child when it comes to custody and parenting time.
As mentioned a moment ago, the best interests of a child standard is applicable when a parent desires to alter an existing custody or parenting time schedule. This includes a situation where a noncustodial parent wishes to alter an existing child custody order to increase the amount of parenting time currently permitted.
Negotiate a Change in Existing Custody and Parenting Time Agreement
Courts consistently prefer that parents attempt to negotiate resolutions to issues involving children in the aftermath of a divorce. The theory is that the children benefit when parents are able to communicate with one another and resolve issues between themselves. Thus, if a noncustodial parent desires additional parenting time or visitation, the ideal course is for the parents to reach an agreement regarding a change.
If the parents are able to reach an agreement regarding modifying an existing order allowing for more parenting time for the noncustodial parent, the put that agreement into writing. Technically speaking, a proposed order altering the parenting time or visitation schedule is prepared. That proposed order is submitted to the court for review and approval. Even if the parents agree to modify an existing order pertaining to custody or parenting time, the court reviews the proposed change to ensure that the alteration is in the best interests of the child or children.
Motion to Alter Parenting Time Order
If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the noncustodial parent desiring to expand the amount of available visitation prepares a motion to alter the existing parenting time order. The motion sets forth the reasons why the parent desires to change the existing visitation order. In addition, the motion explains why the proposed change is in the best interests of the child or children.
The motion is filed with the court, and a copy is provided to the other parent. The other parent has the right to file a written response to the motion. The court schedules a hearing on the issues raised in the motion.
Hearing on Request to Alter Parenting Time
Both parents have the ability to make their case before the court. The parents can testify themselves and present other evidence in regard to their respective positions on adding more parenting time for the noncustodial parent. The court considers the evidence presented by the parties. After reviewing the evidence, and considering the testimony, the judge makes a decision as to whether additional parenting time should be allowed to the noncustodial parent.
Another reality of child custody and parenting time issues is that they can prove quite complex. As a consequence, a parent interested in seeking an increase in the amount of parenting time or visitation available should consider seriously the benefits of retaining the services of a skilled, experienced attorney. An experienced custody and visitation lawyer typically will schedule an initial consultation to discuss a case at no cost and no obligation.
When you need someone who can help you understand your rights, give Ana Hessbrook at call and set up your free consultation at 210-706-9466.