How long has it been since you originally signed your current child custody agreement and parenting plan? Does it still reflect your current circumstances and the needs of your child? If the existing agreement no longer works or fits your family's needs, you may consider changing it.
A Minnesota court may only consider modifying your custody agreement under certain circumstances, however. Even when you and the other parent agree to make some changes, you still need the court's approval, which means making it evident to the court that the changes serve the best interests of your child.
Common reasons to change a child custody agreement
First, it helps if you and the other parent agree on any proposed changes. However, that consent may not be necessary if the court rules in your favor. Having said that, the following includes some of the common reasons why the court would modify a custody agreement:
- If you believe your child's safety is compromised by being with the other parent, you may want to seek a modification. You will need to provide the court with evidence that an immediate danger exists, that domestic abuse occurs in the other parent's home and that your child doesn't want to visit the other parent.
- If the other parent fails to adhere to the current agreement, you may need it modified. The court will review the ability of you and the other parent to communicate, the existing parenting plan and the reasons your former spouse has for not complying with the agreement.
- If one of you moves out of the area, it could make the current parenting plan worthless. Before modifying the plan, the court will consider whether you and the other parent attempted to rework the visitation plan, the motivation behind the move and the impossibility of complying with the current plan due to the relocation. The court will also look at how the move and any modifications to visitation impact your child.
If you are not the custodial parent, and the other parent dies, you cannot necessarily just take over as the custodial parent. Of course, the law prefers you to assume full time parental responsibility for your child, but again, if the court determines that giving custody to a third party better serves the child's best interests you may lose custody. You will need to provide the court with substantial evidence indicating that you should have custody of your child.
The stakes may be high
When it comes to your child, you probably don't cut corners. You may want to apply that same attitude toward a modification of your child custody agreement and parenting plan. This may mean seeking out the legal resources in your community as you strive to do what you believe is best for your child.