Stores in Missouri advertise sales on kids clothes and school supplies weeks before kids return to school after a summer break. The summer may have flown by but back to school means children are starting a new year of education. As children continue to mature and start new activities, back-to-school time may be a time to reevaluate child custody agreements and parenting plans.
Minor Changes to Parenting Plans
When child custody agreements are going well, there may be no need to make significant changes or modify a child custody agreement. However, parents can agree to minor changes without having to go to the courts. Minor changes based on a child's new school-year schedule and activities can include:
- Sports and recreational activities
- After-school activities
- Church activities
- Part-time jobs
- Weekend activities
Preparing for Back to School
Parents should communicate and discuss any schedule changes before the child returns to school. This includes the day-to-day school schedule and drop-off and pick-up times. The child may also be looking at changes in their weekend schedule for activities that could impact the existing visitation schedule.
Factors in Child Custody Decisions
Child custody agreements are generally geared towards what is in the child's best interests. However, the child's best interests change over time. As a child gets older, more weight may be given to what the child wants and the child's preferences, other factors that may change over time include:
- Recurrent and meaningful contact with both parents;
- Parents' willingness to encourage the child to maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent;
- Parents' intentions to relocate;
- Child's relationship with parents, siblings, and extended family members; and
- Adjustment to home, school, and the community.
Changes in the Parents' Life
Even if the end of the summer does not signal significant changes in the parenting plan, it may be a good time for parents to re-evaluate the parenting plan. During the prior year, one parent may have had a major life change and the parents adapted at the time but child custody and visitation has not been consistent since the major life change.
Life changes that may justify a post-decree modification may include:
- Loss of a job,
- Significant change in income,
- New partner or spouse,
- Mental health issues,
- Substance abuse,
- Illness or disability, or
- Moving or relocation.
A family law judge may modify an existing parenting plan where there has been a “substantial and material change in circumstances.”
Modifying Child Support Agreements
Child support can also be modified based on changed circumstances. Changes that are significant enough to justify a child support modification may not have occurred overnight but may have happened over time. A new school year can be time to re-evaluate whether the existing child support agreement should be modified.
In Missouri, a child support modification must show "circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable." Factors in determining changes in circumstances may include:
- The financial resources and needs of both parents,
- The financial resources and needs of the child,
- The child's educational needs, and
- The legal custody arrangements concerning the child.
Consult an Experienced Missouri Child Custody Lawyer
If there has been a significant change in the child's life or the other parent is putting your child's welfare at risk, you can seek a post-decree modification of the existing parenting plan. If you have questions about child custody after a divorce or making changes to child custody agreements, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.