How to Act Before Your Modification

By William Halaz

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

To state the obvious, the easiest way to have your custody or visitation schedule changed is to get the other parent to consent to the change.

After reading that, you probably rolled your eyes and thought, “only when pigs fly will she consider changing the current custody schedule we fought tooth and nail over.”

First off, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Seems simple enough, but the way you ask is also important.

Don’t demand an extra weekend per month. Would you agree to that out of the blue? Probably not. But what about an extra dinner once a month, or once a week? Starting small is often an easy way to convince your formerly hostile ex to give up some time, especially as your child gets older.

That extra weeknight visit can turn into an additional overnight after your ex begins to get comfortable with not seeing the child every night of the week.

Another good time to request additional midweek visits are during summer and winter breaks. The child doesn’t have homework, so the other parent won’t be worried you will drop the ball there. If you work during the day, make sure you have someone who can watch the child if necessary.

Also, be sure to refrain from focusing too much on overnight visitations at the beginning, as the other parent will suspect you are simply looking for additional overnight credits and are not truly interested in spending additional time with your child. Remember, you are trying to spend as much time as possible with your child, not get a break on child support.

Speaking of support, if you are currently ordered to pay child support, make sure you do so in a timely manner. Nothing will shut down an agreed upon modification faster than a missed or late child support payment. Also, the court will see your responsible behavior as yet another positive attribute you possess.

You will also want to play an active role in your child’s life. This means coaching or at least attending sporting events, plays, and other activities your child is involved in, even if it’s not your custody time. As a side note, if your child’s other parent has a restraining order against you, even if you simply consented and admitted no wrongdoing, make sure you follow the terms.

This also means attending parent teacher conferences, requesting copies of report cards, and taking an interest in your child’s development above and beyond the time you were awarded custody or visitation. You probably already do these things and that is why you want a modification.

When you are at these events, make sure to avoid conflict with your child’s other parent. Not only is this traumatic and embarrassing for your child, but detracts from the good you are doing by being involved in your child’s life.

To remove any roadblocks you may put in your own way, be sure to police your social networks and online presence. If you must have a Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or other virtual presence, be sure that your posts, tweets, and pictures are appropriate and do not put you in a compromising position.

Further, make sure what other people are putting on your pages are appropriate. While you might not put pictures of yourself drinking on your page, your buddy’s wall post about how wasted you were last night will not go over well with the court.

Finally, if you are in the situation where your child has been the victim of abuse or neglect, call the child abuse hotline in your state to file a report immediately.

While this article addresses some of the issues that arise when preparing for a modification proceeding, you may have additional questions regarding your own specific situation. You should contact an attorney in your area immediately if you need additional information or legal representation, as most parties in modification actions do.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.

Read all the parts of this series on divorce modification:


Attorney William HalazWilliam Halaz is a Staff Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. Mr. Halaz is licensed to practice in the state of Missouri. Mr. Halaz received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Southeast Missouri State University. Then continuing his education, received his Juris Doctor from St. Louis University’s School of Law.

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