People who have been through a divorce with shared children involved with generally seek an arrangement that allows both parents the opportunity to see their children. This is known as a visitation agreement, and they are a standard part of a divorce. That said, there are times when it may be necessary to alter or amend a visitation agreement that was previously established. This is because circumstances in the lives of the parents may change in such a way that the agreement that worked before is no longer efficient. When that occurs, it is important to hire an attorney who can work on an alteration to your agreement for you.
Avoiding Court with an Agreement
It may or may not be easy to negotiate with the other party to your divorce. Much of the answer to that question boils down to the kind of relationship that you maintain with that person. If things have grown contentious, as is often the case in divorce, then it might be nearly impossible to work together on visitation agreement alteration. However, if you can negotiate something that works for both parties, this is preferred because:
- It is expensive to take these situations to court
- You can begin to work with your new plan more quickly
- You keep lines of communication open between yourself and your former partner
- Your child doesn’t have to suffer needlessly
The use of a lawyer in these circumstances is still highly recommended. You might want to amend your agreement with the other party to your divorce, but you still need help from a seasoned attorney to ensure that your interests are protected. Always keep in mind that you and your attorney are the only ones who can advocate strongly for your position.
Significant Changes Require Modification to the Plan
Understand that there is not a guarantee that you will necessarily receive the modification to your visitation plan that you might have hoped for if there is not a significant change in the child’s life and circumstances. This family law blog explains it like this:
Your visitation rights are secured once the custody agreement is approved by the courts and both parents must abide by the terms outlined in the parenting plan. The courts understand that there will be changes in the child’s life that necessitate modifications to the plan, but the changes must be substantial in order for any changes to occur.
The courts do NOT want to change the nature of these plans too often for multiple reasons. First, they don’t want to use up too much of the court’s time trying to sort out something that should have been figured out on the first go around. Second, they want to make sure everything is set up fairly for both parents. Finally, they want to keep the life of the child as stable as possible. Frequent changes to the plan could cause unwanted instability. Instead, the court will very carefully examine all alternatives before recommending any changes to a parenting plan.
The “Best Interest of the Child” Standard
Any parenting plan set up by a court in Florida will rely on the best interest of the child standard. This is to say that judges are tasked with trying to determine how to set up a plan that will benefit the well-being of the child. Thus, the court must take several factors into consideration before making a determination. We will look at some of these factors now.
Physical and Emotion Safety
Safety first is quite literally how courts view the visitation plans that they set up for children. By definition, children are unable to stand up for themselves and advocate for their rights. Thus, the courts must step up and attempt to do this work. They need to always consider the physical and emotion safety of the child no matter which parent that child is with at the time. If it appears to the court that one parent can obviously offer a safer life for the child, then that parent will receive the majority or even all of the time with the child.
Children thrive on a safe and consistent environment. If they are not provided one, then it is possible that their life can start to get knocked off track. Therefore, it is pressing and urgent that children’s lives not be disrupted too much by the divorce of their parents. It is impractical for the courts to believe that they can cease all disruption to a child’s life when that child’s parents are going through divorce. However, it is possible to mitigate at least some of the damage by creating a visitation plan that puts the needs of the child at the forefront.
Sometimes a child has developed deeper ties with one parent or another. If evidence of this is clear, then the court may award that parent additional time with the child. It is possible that such an arrangement will also help keep life consistent and balanced for the child.
Wishes of the Child
The court does not have to consider the wishes of the child when making visitation arrangements, but they often do anyway. If the child is old enough to voice his or her feelings about which parent they would like to spend more time with, the court may consider this. At the same time, the court may overrule the wishes of the child if it is determined that the best interest of the child is served another way.
Obtain Proper Legal Presentation
It is a very big deal to try to get changes made to your parental visitation agreement. Courts take these matters extremely seriously, and you should anticipate having to make a real case for why you deserve certain rights and benefits that the other parent might not receive. It can be a challenging case to make at times, but the help of a good lawyer comes in handy at moments like this.
Whether Divorce Mediation is the best option or you are facing spousal support and child custody cases, our Attorneys will help you. Our experienced attorneys have represented hundreds of clients in different areas of Family Law.
Our Attorneys are also experts in handling agreements like prenuptial agreements or Visitation ones. For every need in the realm of Family Law, our Law Firm is positioned as a professional and expert partner, ready to represent you and your interests. Contact us to get a free consultation!