If a judge drafted your parenting plan, the terms they set reflect what they think would be in the best interests of the children. If you and your ex negotiated your own arrangements, then you had some input in those terms.
The goal is always to do what is best for the children, but what children need will change dramatically as they mature. Your custody arrangements that worked fine last year may suddenly lead to a lot of conflict with your ex now or leave you without adequate access to and time with the children.
Virginia allows parents with an existing custody order to file a hearing request with the courts and seek a modification. When might a parent need to request a custody modification?
When they have improved their circumstances
Some divorces and custody cases lead to uneven division of parenting responsibilities. An uneven split parenting time or decision-making authority frequently reflects one parent’s instability at the time of divorce or unwillingness to request parental rights. If you have found permanent housing or otherwise improved your circumstances, you may be in a position to ask for more time with your children.
When your schedule or situation changes
Have you recently taken a new job that will require fewer weekends and less travel? Have your children reached an age where they care more about socializing with their friends on weeknights than spending time with their parents? As your lifestyles and family circumstances change, your custody arrangement may also need to change to reflect everyone’s availability.
When your ex shows they can’t put the children first
Sadly, some modifications are not the result of positive changes in the family but rather negative ones. If your ex has stopped showing up for their parenting time, the constant cancellations can strain your schedule and damage your children’s sense of self-esteem. If your ex has developed substance abuse issues or started dating someone abusive, you may feel like the children aren’t even safe at their home.
Anytime there is a material change in your family situation, you may have grounds for a modification request. Pursuing a custody order modification can help you protect your relationship with your children and keep them safe.