Your divorce may have been ugly enough on its own, but the battle over child custody often brings some of the ugliest issues to the surface as both parents fight for their right to custody or visitation of their children.
It will ultimately be up to the courts to solve any gaps between you and your ex on these agreements, but while the court's ruling must be followed it's not the final opportunity to make changes to custodial and visitation rights. In fact, there are several scenarios where a custody agreement can be altered in Florida.
The easiest way to alter a custody agreement is to come to an agreement with your ex. This can be frustrating in situations where the parents aren't on good terms, but if you're able to negotiate a change in custody and visitation rights, the courts likely won't get in the way unless it negatively impacts the child. You will still need to notify the courts and get the approval of any changes to the court order.
A parent is moving
One of the most obvious situations where a Florida custody agreement will be changed is when a parent decides to move. Short moves by either parent that don't significantly impact the custody agreement likely won't be an issue (but the court still needs to be notified). If the move is farther than 50 miles, the court will get involved in deciding any changes to the agreement.
What's important to understand is the decision to move by the custodial parent isn't theirs and theirs only. The courts will need to be notified of the move and will decide whether the move is in the best interests of the children involved. This means a custodial parent deciding they'd rather live in another part of Florida or another state entirely won't suffice. The move itself will need to be in the best interests of the child and not greatly disturb the relationship already established with the noncustodial parent before a move can take place.
If you're moving to be closer to family, getting a new job with a significant raise that can improve your children's standard of living, or making a move to get them into a better school, you are more likely to get your move approved by the courts. Whenever the courts believe you want to move for purely selfish reasons they may take your custodial rights away and give custody to the other parent.
For noncustodial parents, a move could cost you visitation rights. The courts generally won't expect the custodial parent to go too far out of their way to maintain consistent visitation when a noncustodial parent moves far away.
The age and interests of your child
Ultimately, your child's interests may grow and change over time. This could mean your child's needs call for an alteration of the original custody agreement.
As your child gets older, they also may want to spend more time with the noncustodial parent or even sever ties with one parent. Similar to relocation, it's not as simple as your child making a request and the change being approved. The courts will consider the desires of the child and their best interests. If their desires don't fit with their best interests, the courts may decline to make those adjustments.
Schooling is a similar factor as your child gets older, as well. If your child would be better served by schools where one parent lives over the other, that parent may be able to secure custodial rights.
In the end, it's all about making sure your children have the best opportunities to grow after your divorce. It's going to take some unselfish and prudent decisions on each parent's part to maintain custody and visitation rights.
At Florida Divorce Law Group, we can help you get the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us today if you need to protect your custodial rights or want the court to review what's in an already existing order.