As a parent, your child always comes first, which is why you put so much time, energy and effort into creating a child custody agreement that reflects his or her best interests. Life is not always consistent though, and what was best in the past might no longer be the case. There are even situations in which a child custody modification is in order.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons you might need a modification is if there are issues with your child’s other parent. It can be difficult to move forward with the modification process if this is the case. You understand how important it is to have two active parents in your child’s life, but you also need to be prepared to make hard decisions when your ex is no longer acting in your child’s best interests.
Is your ex late to pick up or drop off?
Consistency is key for children, especially after a divorce. But what happens if your ex is frequently late to pick up or drop off your child despite having designated times for doing so? Worse yet, what if he or she simply does not show up when it is their turn to pick up your child?
This type of uncertainty can be traumatic on a child. While your first step should be to reach out to your ex to try and reach a solution on your own, you can also prepare to move forward with a modification if your ex is unwilling to cooperate. A judge will consider your modification petition and possibly order a change to your custody order.
Are you frequently fighting over important decisions?
Even if you do not share physical custody with your ex, there is a good chance that you maintain joint legal custody. Legal custody refers to your ability to make important decisions about your child’s life. This includes decisions about:
- Medical care
- Religious upbringing
- Extracurricular activities
If you and your ex constantly butt heads over even the smallest of decisions, it may be worthwhile to consider whether joint legal custody is actually working out. You should always carefully consider the potential impact of petitioning for a modification of legal custody, though. For many parents, legal custody is one of the best ways they stay actively involved in their children’s lives, and taking that option away is a serious matter.
What if I just want small changes?
Does your ex take your child out of town without telling you, or conveniently forget to inform you about parent/teacher conferences? Rather than make a significant change to your child’s physical or legal custody arrangement, you may want to consider including a few new provisions in your custody agreement. For example, you could petition for a modification that would require your ex to inform you every time he or she goes on a trip with your child.
Petitioning for a child custody modification is not a sign that either you or your ex have failed your child. Oftentimes, it is simply an indication that life is changing and that your child’s needs are changing along with it. However, as with all things related to child custody in Texas, it is important to ensure that all changes are truly in the child’s best interests rather than those of the parents.