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Outgrowing divorce and custody settlements

After you and your ex-spouse reached a fair and equitable settlement, you each went your own way to build new lives. Adapting to custody schedules and readjusting your standard of living may have been a challenge at first, but you managed to find a rhythm that seemed to be working.

Of course, nothing stays the same. Every year, the children have new schedules, new interests and new activities. You and your ex-spouse may also be entering different phases of life that present challenges to custody and other court orders that seemed so agreeable just a few years earlier.

Adjusting to change as it comes

You may be able to work out the little things together - extracurricular activities, work schedules or holidays. However, if the changes occurring in your life are more drastic or if your co-parent is not willing to adjust, you may need to file for a modification to your divorce or custody agreement. Changes may occur in any part of your life, but the most common happen in these areas:

  • Relationships
  • Finances
  • Location

You can't always avoid what life pitches at you, but sometimes you might purposely look for something different.

New people and responsibilities in your life

A new or changed relationship can be a major disruption to the status quo. Children grow and develop new interests, and those interests may require more or less attention from you or your ex. For example, a daughter reaching puberty may need more time with her mother and feel shy around her father.

You or your ex-spouse may also find your relationship is changing. If one or both of you decide to remarry, the changes in your family dynamic may require extra sensitivity and patience. You may need to demonstrate even more flexibility if the new relationships involve stepchildren.

A job loss, promotion or raise may motivate you or your ex to request a modification in child support or alimony. If you are the supporting parent, losing your job does not automatically relieve you of your court-ordered obligations. You must act quickly to request a modification before back payments accumulate. If your former spouse has suddenly come into a fortune, you may want to request a reduction in your obligations.

Seeking advice for relocation issues

Relationship changes or financial fluctuations may be contributing factors in a parent's decision to move. If you or your new spouse has found a better job, you may be considering moving out of the area. On the other hand, your former spouse may have recently told you of his or her plans to move, perhaps because of work, a new relationship or some personal reason.

Such moves impact your children and their time with your co-parent, which is why the courts hesitate to approve them. Having the advice of an attorney during this process is vital. Whether you are requesting relocation or disputing it, legal counsel will ensure that your intentions are properly presented and defended. While change is not always welcome, you can rely on experienced guidance to bring about the best possible compromise.