We are often asked by clients to provide representation relating to modification of custody, including when there has been a change in circumstances that substantially affects the best interests of the child or children. In those situations, attention is given to the actions of the parents, and/or the circumstances of the child or children, and the Court can take into consideration factors in determining how custody may be modified in the best interests of the child or children. The older the child or children, the more likely the Court may take into consideration the wishes of the child or children in regard to who they believe should have custody, or the type of custody and visitation arrangement that the parent should have.
Sometimes visitation ordered by the Court does not work. Even if the parents agree to a visitation schedule, there are facts and circumstances which can arise, and which were possibly unanticipated at the time of the divorce, which results in modification of visitation being recommended. For example, sometimes the non-custodial parent engages in activities that are not in the best interests of the minor children. In other instances, the non-custodial parents knows may not show up timely for visitation periods or may use visitation as a strategy or a tool to disrupt the parent-child relationship of the custodial parent. A divorce decree may not necessarily be the end of animosity, disputes or litigation between the parents. As a practical matter, issues relating to custody, visitation and support can be a source of continuing disputes even though a divorce may have taken place years ago. It has been our experience that on some days in Court there are just as many post-divorce cases pending, as there are cases pending where divorces have not yet been granted.