There is a reason, other than portability, why divorce decrees are not stone tablets. These orders are never intended to be permanent. As a rule of thumb, they need to be modified at least once every three years.
This rule only applies to substantive modifications. Procedural modifications probably need to be even more frequent. Every time the children move to a new county, a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney should file a motion to transfer. If an emergency arises, this time-saving step could make a significant difference in the lives of your children. Such a move is also good for child support reasons. The bureaucrats and lawyers who oversee these provisions should live where the children live. Otherwise, things could get lost in translation.
In general, a McLeod County family law judge will modify the parenting plan if the circumstances of one or more parties (parent or children) have materially, substantially, and permanently changed. Additionally, the requested modification must be in the best interests of the children.
Over time, relationships between parents and children change. Sometimes, parents and children get into fights, and sometimes, certain events bring them closer for a little while. For example, Jamal may get angry at his dad for a legitimate reason, or Raul may feel closer to his father after a death in the family. But these things are temporary. Jamal’s anger will subside, and Raul’s mourning will not last long.
But in other cases, these emotional changes are permanent. If the emotional changes have practical consequences, it is easier for a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney to successfully modify the orders. Perhaps Julia is already spending more time with her non-residential dad. If the motion to modify the parenting plan just puts the current arrangement into writing, it’s usually not a problem to get the parties to agree to it and the judge to sign off on it.
Legally, the danger could either threaten the child’s physical well-being or the child’s long term emotional development. Emotional well-being is rather subjective. What one person, or one judge, considers harmful may not be a big deal to another judge. But pretty much everyone agrees on what constitutes physical danger. Some illustrations include:
- Drugs: The adults probably do not give the children heroin or whatever illegal drugs they are using. But children may have access to the drugs or the drug paraphernalia, and if the adults are high, they probably are not supervising the children.
- Alcohol: Any drug use probably threatens the children’s physical well-being. But only heavy alcohol use probably qualifies as a physical danger. A large dose of alcohol can kill a child. Additionally, alcohol causes some people to lose control. This point leads to the next bullet, which is. . .
- Lifestyle: Physical, verbal, or emotional abuse almost always constitutes child endangerment. But unless the police have responded, abuse is often difficult for Hutchinson, MN family law attorneys to prove in court. If the children say they are afraid of their new stepmom or they do not want to stay in the house, this point is easier to establish.
If the drug use or abuse issues are bad enough, a McLeod County family law judge may sign an emergency order that removes a child from a house, or bars contact between parent and child, pending a hearing.
Either Parent’s Relocation
Timing is very important in parenting time divisions. If Mom moves even fifteen or twenty minutes further away from Dad, that minor change could throw everything off balance.
Some parents make side-agreements in these cases. They assume there is no reason to involve Hutchinson, MN family law attorneys in something they can work out among themselves. That’s a misguided attitude. Side agreements, even if they are in writing and signed, are not enforceable in family court. If one parent unilaterally decides to go back to the way things were before, the other parent has no recourse. Always make sure that the judge approves any changes.
Unremitting Parenting Time Violations
According to James Bond novelist Ian Fleming, “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and three times is enemy action.” If a parent consistently ignores court orders, even something simple like a drop-off time, the parent is not just disrespecting the other parent. That person is challenging the court’s authority. If the violations escalate (ten minutes late in January, fifteen minutes late in February, and so on), a modification is easier to make.
Judges usually consider other factors as well, such as whether the parties agreed to the original parenting plan and the amount of communication, if any, between the parents. Text messages are your friends.
Residential Parent’s Death
If the residential parent passes away, the non-residential parent usually assumes full custody of the children. But that’s not always the case. Some parents are so physically or emotionally distant from their children that such a transfer would be too much of a shock.
Connect with Dedicated Lawyers
A parenting plan can technically be modified at any time. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN Family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.