At the time of your divorce, the terms set forth in you and your ex’s parenting plan were likely workable. Yet, as your children grow up, their needs and schedules may have changed. And you or your ex may also have experienced changes in circumstance that have affected your ability to parent. If any of these events have arisen, you must understand if they warrant modifications to your custody order or parenting time schedule.

Modifying child custody

In Minnesota, custody modifications usually stem from significant changes in circumstance for a parent or their children. Often, these are negative, and may involve issues of abuse, substance abuse, neglect or parental interference. Yet you may also need to modify your custody order if you or your ex plan on relocating, or if your children are struggling in their current environment.

Under Minnesota law, you cannot modify your custody order sooner than one year after your divorce. Yet, if you and your ex agree upon the proposed changes in writing, you will not be subject to this limitation. If your initial motion leads to a hearing, you cannot file another for two years afterward, whether your modification is granted or denied. However, any proposed modifications are not subject to limitations if your children are in immediate danger or if you or your ex have interfered with the other’s parenting time.

Modifying parenting time

The threshold for modifying parenting time is lower than that for modifying child custody. When filing a motion, you will need to prove that any proposed changes are in your children’s best interests. Often, these relate to scheduling, and may reflect a shift in your children’s schooling or extracurricular activities. If your children’s relationship with you or your ex has changed, modifying parenting time may also make sense.

Keep in mind that any parenting time modifications you propose must not change your children’s primary residence. If they do, they may qualify as a modification to your custody order instead.

You and your ex may or may not agree on the proposed modifications to your custody order or parenting time schedule. In either case, you must file a request through the court to have these changes considered and, if granted, enforced. A family law attorney can guide you through the challenges of the modification process.