Changing Visitation Schedules
When a couple with children divorces, there are many legal considerations that they have. Child custody and visitation are two issues that a parent must face when divorcing their spouse. As the children grow up or if the parent's schedules change, there may be a need to change the visitation schedule that is in place. While it can be difficult, it is very common for parents to change visitation schedules around, in order to suit the changing needs of their children or themselves. Even if the parents are in complete agreement of the new schedule, a petition to change the visitation schedule must be filed in family court before it is legally binding. Contact a child visitation lawyer to review your case.
Who To Contact and Where To File a Motion:
Filing a motion through a local family court is necessary to request a change in one's current child visitation schedule. However, the first thing one should do if they wish to change their child's visitation schedule is try to have a conversation about it with their ex-spouse. If two parents do not get along, this may be difficult. However, the cooperation of the other parent will make the process run smoother and it is worth it to give it a try.
If an agreement can be reached then the parents should draw up a contract together and have it notarized. Although this does not make the proposed new visitation schedule legally binding, the courts will not be likely to argue against an agreed on plan unless they think that the child will not benefit from it. Whether or not the couple can reach an agreement, they must file a motion to have the visitation changed with their local family court county clerk. The parent will not be given a court date until their motion is on file with their local family court.
Complete Paperwork, File With Clerk and Have Papers Served:
A parent must draw up their own petition to submit to the local family court. The petition should include the names and ages of the children, along with the reason for the requested schedule change. The parent filing the motion must make sure that the other parent is properly served with the legal papers. The other parent has a right to know when any change in visitation is requested.
Even if the parents have officially agreed on a schedule, the parent who is not filing the motion must be served with paperwork detailing the date and time of the court appearance that is necessary. A representative of the court can serve the other parent with the legal papers. So can a regular individual.
The quicker an individual files their motion to change visitation, the quicker the judge can review the case. After the other parent is served with the legal papers, it is their responsibility to show up on time for the visitation hearing. If they want to fight the change in custody and they do not show up for the hearing, the court may automatically grant the new requested schedule to the parent who asked for it.
Present Papers In Court:
A parent must have good reasons for wanting to change a visitation schedule. It might be at the child's request because the visits conflict with other obligations. It may be due to a mandatory change in a parent's work schedule. However, no matter what the reason is for the requested change in the visitation schedule, the courts will usually not allow it if they think that the new schedule will be deferential to a child's well being. Proving that the new schedule will be in the child's best interest and is key to being granted the change.
Any paperwork that one gets to support this claim can be used as proof and presented in court. For instance, if the child has requested the change and is old enough, a letter written to the judge with the reasons listed for the request may go a long way in convincing the court that the new schedule would benefit the child. If a parent has a new work schedule, a letter from their place of employment may help prove the validity of their request.
It is hard to get a noncustodial parent in trouble for not taking advantage of visitation since they are not legally required to. However, if the parents have set up a visitation schedule in family court, that is a legal court order that is supposed to be complied with. If the noncustodial parent violates that court order, then they are legally in contempt of court. Before rushing into a legal battle, the custodial parent should try to speak with the noncustodial parent about the lack of visitation. Many times a noncustodial parent will refuse to visit with their child, as a way of hurting their ex-spouse.
The custodial parent should try to explain that the noncustodial parent is only hurting the child in the long run. Finding out if the visitation schedule is a problem for the noncustodial parent may help as well. The problem may be able to be solved, by changing the visitation schedule. However, if a conversation between the parents is impossible or does not work, it will be time to involve the courts. The custodial parent should file a motion to charge their ex-spouse with contempt of court, for not following the court order.
Both parents have the right to appear in court and the judge will usually make a decision soon after. The court may decide that the noncustodial parent will be punished by being granted a limited visitation schedule with their child. Other punishments include parenting classes, community service, jail time and paying for the custodial parent's legal fees. However, it is very difficult to force a noncustodial parent to take advantage of the visitation schedule they have with their child.