When Do You Need to Modify Your Custody and/or Visitation Orders?

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Change is a constant is life and, as a result, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to change your custody and visitation orders to meet your new needs or the needs of a child. Fortunately, in Oklahoma, this can be accomplished.  This can be accomplished at the request of one party, or both.  However, both parties do NOT need to agree to this change in order for the Court to order the change; the change can happen over one party’s objection, if necessary. There are legal standards which need to be met in order for the Court to be able to make certain requested change(s), and this is where the attorneys at Oxford Lehr, PLLC may be able to help.  

Below is some of the reasons why one or both parties may request change(s) to custody or visitation orders:

· Change to the mental or physical health of one or both of the parties can be a factor when custody and visitation orders are being made. The court may find that it is in the best interests of the child to spend more time with one parent if the other parent's mental or physical health deteriorates. For example, if the child's father becomes severely depressed and is not able to care for the child on his own, the court may award custody to the child's mother. If one of the parents develops a serious illness, the court may order that parent to have less contact with the child in order to protect the child's health. In making custody and visitation orders, the court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child.

· Change to the mental or physical health of one or more children can have a significant impact on the mental and physical health of children. In some cases, children may feel anxious or stressed about having to spend time with a parent they don't have a close relationship with. This can lead to behavioral problems and difficulty sleeping. In other cases, custody and visitation orders may prevent children from seeing a parent who is ill or in jail. This can lead to feelings of abandonment and isolation. Additionally, custody and visitation orders can be changed unexpectedly, which can cause further stress for children. All of these factors can have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of children.

· Change in employment (employer, hours, etc.) of one or both of the parties the court will consider the impact of the change on the child's best interests when making a decision. If the parent is working fewer hours, they may have more time available to care for the child. However, if the parent is working more hours or travelling for work, it may become more difficult to coordinate custody and visitation. In any case, it is important to notify the other parent of any changes to employment as soon as possible so that modifications to custody and visitation can be made, if necessary.

· Change to the school or extra-curricular activities and/or schedule of one or more children custody and visitation orders may need to be changed to reflect the changing needs of the child or children involved. For example, if one parent gets a new job that requires them to work longer hours, they may need to adjust their custody arrangement accordingly. Or if a child starts participating in after-school activities, their parents may need to modify their visitation schedule to accommodate this. Ultimately, any changes to custody or visitation arrangements should be made with the best interests of the child or children in mind.

·  A deliberate act(s) by one party to interfere with the other party’s relationship with the child/ren which can take many forms, such as custody orders being violated, visitation being denied or interfered with, or orders being issued that are not in the best interest of the child. Parental alienation can have a significant impact on the child's well-being and can even lead to custody being awarded to the other parent. It is important to be aware of this issue so that steps can be taken to prevent it from happening.

· One party’s attempt to relocate with the child/ren can become even more complex when one parent wants to move out of state or even just to a different city, it can have a major impact on the other parent's custody and visitation rights. The best way to protect your rights in this situation is to get a court order that specifically lays out the custody and visitation arrangements. This way, there can be no confusion about when the children will be with each parent, and both parents will have a legal right to enforce the terms of the order.

· Drug or alcohol use by one party may result in the other party being awarded sole custody of the children. Even if sole custody is not awarded, the court may limit the custody or visitation rights of the parent who is using drugs or alcohol. In making its decision, the court will consider the safety of the children and whether the parent is able to provide a stable home environment. The court may also require the parent to undergo substance abuse counseling or treatment as a condition of custody or visitation.

· Financial issues of one of the parties can be a difficult issue to overcome, as both parties may have very different ideas about what is fair and what is not. In many cases, custody and visitation orders are put in place in order to ensure that both parties are able to maintain a certain level of financial stability. However, these orders can often be difficult to enforce, particularly if one party does not have a steady income. As a result, it is important to seek legal advice if you are facing this type of issue. An experienced attorney at our firm can help you understand your options and create a plan that is fair for both parties.

Of course, everyone’s case is unique and requires an individual assessment by an attorney. Please call the attorneys at Oxford Lehr, PLLC at (918) 884-6016 if you have any specific questions or concerns regarding your case.

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