A divorce is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences of a person’s life, especially if they are a parent divorcing their child’s other parent. So, if you have recently completed your divorce in the Midwest and are bracing for your first holiday season with a child custody order, it’s natural to have lots of questions and concerns about the potential issues you face with your co-parent as the holidays approach.
Divorced parents with joint custody orders in the Midwest typically face complex schedules around the holidays. For example, when parents share custody and live close to one another, it’s common for the children to spend the first half of a holiday with one parent and then spend the rest of the holiday with the other parent. However, visits from extended relatives, last-minute family vacations, and other schedule changes can easily arise during the holiday season. Unfortunately, some divorced parents may not know how to address these variables.
Ultimately, it’s vital to always acknowledge your custody order and follow its terms to the letter. Any failure to do so will lead to severe penalties, even if you think you are entitled to a different custody or visitation arrangement over the holidays. In addition, almost every child custody order includes provisions regarding holidays, vacations, and other special occasions. Your custody order likely dictates how you and your co-parent will need to manage the holiday season, but if you have any doubts, concerns, or questions, you’ll need to consult an experienced family law attorney.
Understanding Your Custody Order
All child custody determinations unfold under the supervision of the family court, and the judge overseeing your custody case has a legal duty to preserve your child’s best interests in their rulings. Therefore, when the court issues a custody order, it will include the judge’s allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Most judges strive to approve joint custody orders whenever possible, ensuring children have as close to equal access to both parents as possible. However, it’s also possible for one parent to assume a much larger share of custody than the other, assuming the role of the custodial parent.
The custody order dictates physical custody of the children. Physical custody pertains to a child’s residency and where they spend their time. Legal custody pertains to the ability to make important decisions for a child. While your child custody determination could be one of the most challenging experiences of your life, and you may not entirely agree with the terms delivered by the judge, it is crucial that you follow its terms closely or risk severe penalties.
Requesting Changes to a Custody Order
It is never worth violating a custody order in the Midwest, no matter how slight you believe the breach to be. You and your spouse may be able to reach a mutual agreement for a one-off schedule change or emergency over the holiday season, but without mutual agreement, you may not stray from your custody order unless you secure a formal modification.
The family courts of the Midwest understand that life can present unpredictable challenges, some of which can interfere with a parent’s ability to abide by their custody order. However, the parent is responsible for notifying the court of such challenges and requesting reasonable and necessary changes to their custody order rather than ignoring the order.
Your Midwest family law attorney can assist you with the modification filing process, preparing you for the hearing that will follow your petition and assisting you in implementing the changes you need for your custody order. The modification process is relatively straightforward, and with the right family lawyer’s assistance, it can be invaluable for any parent with a custody order facing a difficult holiday season.
Q: What Happens If My Ex Violates Our Custody Order Over the Holidays?
A: If you believe an intentional violation of your custody order has occurred, you should notify your attorney as soon as possible, and they can advise you on the best next steps to take. You can file contempt proceedings, and your attorney can assist you in finding the best way to enforce the custody order. Any willful violation of a custody order in the Midwest can easily lead to contempt of court, fines, jail time, or even involuntary termination of parental rights.
Q: How Long Does the Modification Process Take?
A: If you believe you have valid grounds to request a change to your custody order and wish to file a petition for modification, the process may not take very long as long as your requested modification is both necessary and reasonable and you provide sufficient support for your case. Your Midwest family law attorney can prepare you for your modification hearing and assist you in submitting a stronger petition. If the judge approves your petition, the changes may take effect immediately.
Q: Can My Co-parent And I Make One-Off Custody Changes?
A: The holiday season can be stressful and unpredictable for anyone, but it is especially challenging for divorced parents. You and your co-parent may need to make last-minute changes in your holiday plans, some of which are likely to influence your custody arrangement. When you and your co-parent must make schedule changes, you can do so with mutual agreement. For example, one parent may give up a day or two of their normally scheduled parenting time in exchange for an equivalent amount of time from the other parent’s schedule. If parents cannot reach a mutual agreement, any changes to their custody or visitation schedule must be approved by court order.
Q: Do I Need an Attorney to Change My Custody Order?
A: If you believe you need to file a petition for modification of your custody order, it’s crucial for you to find legal counsel you can trust. Having an experienced attorney help you with your modification petition will increase the chances of securing the changes you hope to see. While it’s possible to file a petition for modification without an attorney, hiring an experienced Midwest family law attorney to guide you through this process is well worth the investment.
Having reliable legal counsel on your side is an invaluable asset no matter what type of family law matter you currently face. So if you anticipate any custody or visitation-related dispute over this coming holiday season, it’s vital to reach out to an experienced Midwest family law attorney to help you and your children have the best experience possible when it comes to managing your custody arrangement.