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Can I seek additional parenting time or custody?

There are so many extenuating circumstances that may make it difficult for a divorced parent to see their child. Maybe at the time an existing order was created your work schedule made visitation impossible; maybe you didn't have a residence suitable for a child; maybe transportation was an issue.

Whatever the reasons were, let's assume they are no longer an issue. Life never stands still, and people's positions are often improving. This leaves a major question: can I seek additional time with my child now?

Plan with your ex

Divorced mothers and fathers frequently seek additional time with their children. There are a few ways you can do this, but one of the easier ways is to simply speak to your child's other parent.

Requesting some additional time with your child from the custodial parent is effective if the two of you do not harbor lingering hard feelings. If they allow extra time, try to keep your plans simple. Take time to schedule where you will pick the child up from, what you will do together and where you will drop them off.

A potential downside to this approach is that you are not legally changing the custody order. In the eyes of the law, your former spouse has not given up any amount of custody; meaning you will have no legal recourse if they decide you cancel plans you have made.

Seek legal adjustments

If you want to be more thorough, or if speaking with your ex is out of the question, your best option is to speak with a family law attorney and seek formal adjustments to your custody order.

Courts are most interested in the well-being of the child and often feel they have established what is best when a verdict is rendered. You may be able to change their decision, however, if you can prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances.

Potential reasons a court may agree to modify visitation or custody include:

  • The other parent is not honoring the original court order
  • You have moved closer or they plan to move further away
  • Your child has begun attending a different school
  • The child's age or emotional status has made more visitation necessary
  • The other parent has exhibited physical or emotional abuse

These are only a few examples. A skilled attorney will be able to give specific council based on your individual needs.

It is important to remember that starting at age 14, which parent a child wants to live with becomes a factor in custody. Additionally, at 16-years-old a child may file a petition to change which parent they live with.

Always trying to improve oneself and your living situation is a respectable goal. As your situation in life changes, it will also affect those around you. Know that there are often options at your disposal if you wish to be a more significant part of your child's life.

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