After a judge makes a custody and visitation order, 1 or both parents may want to change the order.

There are many good reasons why a parenting plan may need to be changed. As the children get older, for example, their needs, interests, and activities change. And as each of the parents moves on with his or her separate life, new partners, new jobs, or new homes can all mean that the parenting plan needs to be changed.

Parents may need to renegotiate portions of their parenting agreement every 2 ½ to 3 years. If the parents agree on the changes, they can change their court order by using an agreement.  But if the parents cannot agree on the changes, 1 of the parents must file papers with the court asking for a change (a “modification”) of your current child custody and visitation order. If you want to change your order, you and the other parent will probably have to meet with a mediator to talk about why you want the order to change before you go to the court hearing.

Asking for a change of the custody and visitation order

  • You have to show that there has been a “change in circumstances” since the final custody order was made. This means that there has been a significant change that requires a new custody and visitation arrangement for the best interest of the children.
  • The reason there has to be a significant change is that it is best for children to have stable and consistent custody arrangements with their parents. Final custody orders should only be changed if it would be best for the children.
  • Ask your mediator at Family Court Services to make sure you do not have to go to mediation before you file any papers.