For many parents, the first co-parenting agreement you make with your ex likely isn’t the last. The child custody plan that works for a younger child does not necessarily work with the changing dynamics of older childhood. The passing of time provides a good opportunity to reevaluate your custody and support agreements.
If you wish to modify your current child custody or support agreement, you need to read this guide. Wisconsin has specific regulations for modifying your order.
Possible Modifications to a Custody Agreement
When you make your initial custody agreement, you may not be totally sure that the stipulations of the agreement are right for your family situation. You may be especially unsure if this is your first experience with co-parenting. After going through the motions of co-parenting, you may realize that you would like to change the order to something that works better for you and your children.
Legal custody, the right of a parent to make major decisions for a child, is one possible modification. Typically, the court prefers to give parents joint legal custody. The court can ensure that you have equal legal custody, giving you both the right to make medical, educational, and legal decisions for your child.
Physical custody, the decision regarding who a child lives with, is another possible modification. You can discuss changing physical custody so that one of you has the child living in your home rather than simply having visitation.
Good Reasons to Modify a Custody Agreement
When children age, they begin to build new interests, which could include joining sports teams or making new friends. As a result, children might decide that they want to spend their time differently, and it may be in their best interest to do so, either for their physical health, social health, or academics.
Additionally, children may have different wishes for which parent to live with. As they grow older, they may find that they connect more with one parent over the other.
Adults’ needs and wants also change with time. They develop new professional skills or obtain education and training. One parent may have a new work schedule that means they can no longer keep the children overnight on weekdays, for example.
As far as child support goes, a parent’s occupation and salary are likely to change over time. Child support agreements may change based on many factors, such as:
- Each parent’s financial resources
- Changes in a child’s needs, such as a new medical diagnosis
- Changes in child care needs
- How parents divide time with the children
The court will also reconsider the child’s educational needs, health insurance options, and best interests.
Wisconsin Laws for Changing a Custody Agreement
Generally, Wisconsin parents must wait two years after a divorce to change a custody agreement. An exception is made for cases in which the child is at risk for physical or emotional harm.
Sometimes, external circumstances provide the best opportunity to modify a custody agreement. For instance, one parent may marry again, or perhaps one party is called to deploy or change residence based on being a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Another circumstance that could mean a change in custody agreement is if one of the parents is convicted of a felony or violent crime.
How to Prepare for Changing a Custody Agreement
Preparing to change the custody agreement begins by working with a family law attorney. Your attorney can help you establish a new plan, perhaps even coming to an agreement with your co-parenting partner in mediation. Otherwise, you may have a strong case to go to court.
The Law Offices of Thomas Marola can handle your case. Call our office today to discuss your situation and determine if modifying your custody agreement is the best possible option in your situation.