Changing a Child Visitation Schedule
UPDATED: July 14, 2011
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Whether it is a job change, a new residence, or a remarriage, changes in life often lead to the need to alter a child visitation schedule. Good reasons for a change include a different work schedule that conflicts with a visitation arrangement or the desire for more time with a child to remedy a failing parent-child relationship.
If both parents agree to the changes, then there's no problem. If, however, the parents can't agree, the parent who wants will be required to ask the court to change the visitation order.
To decide whether to grant the requested change, the judge will look at the evidence presented by both parents and make a decision based on whether the change would be in the best interest of the child. Judges generally have considerable discretion in deciding whether a change in visitation is appropriate, but every state has guidelines of some kind to help a judge decide which factors they should consider when making a decision as to what is actually best for the child involved.
In practical terms, the judge will look at the proposed new schedule and decide whether it'll benefit the child, taking into consideration the child's need for a stable and consistent schedule. If a change is in the best interests of the child, the judge will modify the original custody order.
Keep in mind that while a sincere argument that both child and parent desire more time spent together can sometimes be enough, asking for increased visitation for no reason other than wanting to have child support payments reduced is not likely to be rewarded with extra time.
When in doubt about the best way to request a change in visitation, speak to a child custody attorney in your area about your individual circumstances and the best way to proceed.