One of the harsh realities of getting a divorce - especially when you have children - is that there is no finish line. Aspects of your life, your ex's life or your children's lives will change, making it necessary to reexamine the details of your divorce and/or custody order.
That is why it is possible in Maryland to modify the terms of your divorce or custody arrangement. It can be a complicated process, especially if the other party does not agree, but a family law attorney can usually provide the necessary guidance.
Your Modification Should Cover EVERYTHING
It is important that your custody agreement addresses every detail. Laying out a specific blueprint makes everyone's life easier, especially your children's. When any detail - no matter how small - changes, it will be important to talk with your attorney about formally modifying your custody agreement.
Some of the common reasons that people seek modifications of a custody order include:
- Relocation: A new job in a new town or even new state will be a major change for you, your children and your ex. This will have an effect on every other aspect of your custody arrangement.
- Remarriage: The introduction of a stepparent or even stepsiblings will be a big adjustment for your children. They may want to live with their other parent or spend more time with their new family members.
- Danger to the children: You should talk to a lawyer and the police if you think your children are in danger at their other home. If they are exposed to drugs or being abused, get help and document your concerns, formally and informally.
- Details change: Any detail that isn't addressed in a custody agreement could be fodder for a future argument between you and your ex. What happens when your pickup/drop-off location closes down? Do you want to spend more time with your children around the holidays? Does your ex want to take your children on a long vacation in the summer? Does your ex get right of first refusal if you can't pick up the kids after school?
When things change, you cannot simply "modify" your agreement on your own. Even if you and your ex agree to the changes, it will be in everyone's interests to make the changes official. Having an official record of your agreement will provide protection if your ex changes his or her mind. Otherwise, you could be exposing yourself to a contempt of court charge. Additionally, if your ex violates your custody order, you can take legal action against him or her to protect your parental rights.