Going through a divorce can be difficult, even if both parties involved desire a mutual outcome. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have any children together, the stress and complexity of your divorce proceedings can increase exponentially.
When your divorce is finalized, the type of child custody will be determined. In the case of sole custody, one parent will live with the child(ren) while the other will have some form of child visitation rights. This visitation allows the parent who does not live with the child(ren), the ability to see his or her kids on a consistent and regular basis.
Typical Child Custody
Visitation can be decided either by the court or by the parents working together to create a workable schedule that benefits both parties.
- If decided by the court, the court will create a schedule with the best interests of the children in mind.
- If the parents are living near one another, the children of school age will usually have visits with the non-custodial parent every other weekend. This is in addition to the non-custodial parent having an overnight or dinner visit with the children once a week. The divorced parents usually alternate school holidays, too.
- Finally, if the children are not in school for summer vacation, the non-custodial parent may have extended visits of a week or more with them.
Disclaimer: This is only a potential visitation schedule; every case will vary.
Types of Visitation
Certain situations will have the court increase or decrease visitation for the non-custodial parent. In this instance, the best-case scenario usually involves the distance between the divorced parents. The farther away you live from your ex, the less likely it is to uphold the once a week and every other weekend schedule mentioned above. The court may use some other factors to limit visitation rights, again with the interests of the children at the forefront of the final decision. Any issues of domestic violence or any unsafe living conditions for the children could impose a limit, such as the following:
- Supervised Visits: A supervisor would be with the non-custodial parent and the child during all visitations. This is due to the court being concerned that the non-custodial parent may be a danger to the child or otherwise will act improperly around said child.
- Therapeutic Supervised Visits: The court appoints a mental health professional to supervise the non-custodial parent during visitations with the goal of helping them improve their parenting skills.
- Neutral Place of Exchange: The court has ordered the transfer of the child in a designated safe location, such as a police state, school, or library.
- Monitored Transfer: The court has ordered that the transfer of the child must be in the presence of a neutral third party.
- Denial of Visitation; For extreme cases, the court may deny visitation altogether due to believing that the non-custodial parent is a danger to the child.
How to Change Your Visitation Plan
If both parents want to modify the established parenting plan and custody schedule and submit their new plan to the court, the court may accept and implement it. Problems can arise, however, when divorced parents disagree. If one parent wants to modify the parenting plan and custody schedule while the other doesn’t, they will need to go to court.
To begin this process, a child custody modification or petition to change the custody order will need to be filled. Both parents will then attend a custody hearing and present each individual case to the judge.
For major modifications to custody or parenting plan, it is best to show major changes in circumstances such as:
- The child’s residence isn’t safe
- Parent is moving
- Parent’s work schedule changed
- Child is older
- Family situation has changed
- The current parenting time schedule isn’t being followed
Providing documentation to the judge that demonstrate a change in circumstance could be beneficial; the following are some examples:
- A report that shows actual parenting time compared to what is scheduled
- A custody journal that notes problems with the plan as they occurred
- New school or activity schedules that impact the parenting time schedule
- Evidence of relocation or a new job
- Statements from doctors, teachers, or witnesses
- Statements from older children about how they would like to modify the parenting plan
- Any paperwork that reveals unfit behavior from the other parent
The judge will either approve the request for modification and the new parenting plan becomes official, or the judge will deny it and the already established parenting plan must be followed.
Family Law Attorneys in the Twin Cities
As an experienced family law attorneys in Minneapolis, we at KTF Law Firm invite you to schedule a free consultation today. Specializing in child custody, parenting time, and visitation rights, we prioritize protecting our client’s children and will help you through every step of the process! Contact us today to learn more!