A Client Focused Approach

How can I change my child custody agreement?

Your children are growing up and exploring the world around them. Getting older means more adventures like sports, academic clubs and school trips. Sometimes it is hard to keep to the arrangement of your child custody agreement. For example, a school band concert can get in the way of your ex-spouse’s agreed evening or weekend.

You set up a parenting plan in the child custody portion of the divorce decree, but you may request changes to this plan. This is a child custody modification.

Parenting plan

According to Missouri law, only a judge can change the custody order. A Motion to Modify Child Custody shows the changes you want to make to your current parenting plan. As a reminder, here is what your parenting plan includes:

  • Written custody and visitation schedule
  • Times and places for picking up and dropping off
  • Decision-making rights for each parent including education, health care and religion
  • How the school gives information to the parents
  • How to handle transportation and expenses for child’s extracurricular activities

Motion for Child Custody Modification

If the parents agree to the changes, the court may not require a formal hearing. This depends on the changes the parents want to make. When the judge receives the Motion to Modify, he or she will determine the changes of the parenting plan by considering several factors:

  • The best interests of the child
  • The needs of the parent
  • The circumstances that have changed since the original order
  • How the original order no longer reflects the best interest of the child

When the parents disagree to the changes, the matter is “contested.” There is a formal hearing for the parent requesting the change to show proof about why there needs to be a change. The other parent may provide evidence as well. Even during a contested case, it is best for the parents to try and reach an agreement.