The custody order and parenting plan Alabama co-parents have in place may detail which parent takes the kids to the doctor and who gets to spend Christmas with them next year. The terms of a custody order and a parenting plan influence everything from income tax returns to household schedules and budgets.
In some families, parents cooperate with one another to create custody plans that very precisely meet the needs of their children. Other times, families ask a judge to help them divide custody because they cannot settle their differences outside of court. Regardless of how a family puts a custody order in place, parents may eventually recognize that the custody order no longer works for their family.
When can parents ask to update or modify Alabama custody orders?
After a significant change in circumstances
There are many factors within a family that could change and render a parenting plan obsolete. Maybe one parent gets engaged and will soon move across county lines to live with their new spouse. Perhaps the children are about to move from grade school to middle school. Significant changes to family relationships, financial circumstances, school, employment or health could all potentially necessitate a custody modification. If the parents have to frequently adjust their schedules or find themselves fighting over changes, it may be time to modify the custody order.
When there are concerns about safety or health
Unfortunately, sometimes the change is not situational but rather has to do with the well-being of the children. Maybe one parent has begun to struggle with alcohol abuse or has become increasingly unstable since the divorce, bouncing from one apartment to the next and unable to keep a job. Perhaps the children have come home with bruises or reporting that they have gone entire days without food or supervision. Parents who believe that their children are in harm’s way may need to seek a modification as soon as possible, although they will usually need documentation to affirm their claims that the children have suffered injury or been unnecessarily exposed to danger or neglect.
In scenarios where the whole family recognizes the need for a change, it may be possible for parents to cooperate in order to draft an uncontested custody order modification with the assistance of a legal professional. Other times, litigation may be necessary. Contested modification requests require a judge to make decisions based on what they think is best for the children. As both scenarios are consequential, they should be approached with caution.