Can You Modify Your Child’s Existing Visitation Order?

The rate of divorces and separations seems to be increasing every day. Studies show that almost 50% of marriages end in divorce or separation. The separation issue is not the main problem because most people have become accustomed to this trend. The burden emerges when the courts decide on child custody, visitation, and spousal maintenance. In this article, you’ll learn whether modifying a child visitation order is possible.

The court will mostly institute a child visitation order in any separation or divorce involving children. This means that although one of the parents will have child custody, the other parent is legally allowed to visit the child. Most parents resolve visitation orders through mediation for their child’s best interests.

Modifying an Existing Child Visitation Order

Traditionally, matters relating to children are not cast in stone in divorce cases. This means that issues such as child custody, child visitation order, and parental support will likely change with time. If the court finds it justifiable, there’s always a possibility that some orders might be issued to change the current status. The court always acts in the interests of the child.

In this case, one of the parents may wish to modify the existing child visitation order to increase or reduce visitation hours or days. Such parents are supported by the current laws and can change an existing child visitation order without resistance.

What are the Reasons for modifying a Child Visitation Order?

As a parent, there’s no doubt you have the right to modify an existing child visitation order as you may wish. However, sometimes modifying such orders is not straightforward. The other party in child custody might have a differing and sometimes justifiable argument against such changes. That’s why you need justifiable reasons to present before a judge for the child visitation order to be modified. Some of these reasons include the following:

Threats to Child’s Safety

As noted above, courts and judges will always make decisions and orders based on the child’s interests. Therefore, if there’s an argument that the child’s safety is likely or has already been compromised, there’s a higher chance that the court will modify the existing order to enhance the child’s safety. Drastic changes such as parents’ dependence on substance abuse may threaten the child’s safety, forcing the court to act.

The Parent is Violent towards the Child

The fact that some parents might act hazardously toward their children, especially after divorce, should not be ignored. In some instances, this might mutate into extreme violence against the child. Suppose the other parent notices that the custodian parent is acting violently and is hazardous towards the child. In that case, the most appropriate approach is to increase the number of visits for safety purposes.

Poor Parent-Child Relationship

Besides the fact that the parent might act violently against the child, there are some instances where the feeling might be mutual. This means both the custodian parent and the child are not on good terms. However, this doesn’t mean that the custody order will be canceled. The only way to prevent the bad relationship from getting out of control is by increasing the number of visits.

Perpetual Violation of Visitation Agreements

There’s no doubt that a prevailing divorce or separation has brought about the current situation. Therefore, both parents might not be on good terms, which means there is a higher possibility of violating the visitation agreements of one of the parents. This is a justifiable argument to modify the visitation agreement to rectify the aspect of good faith among parties.

Changes in the Financial Situation of the Custodian Parent

You don’t want your child to face extreme financial conditions that are likely to affect their well-being. If you notice that the financial and economic situation of the custodian parent has changed, it’s essential to consider modifying the visitation order. This will enable you to meet the child’s needs regularly as the custodian parent works to stabilize their financial situation.

How Can You Petition to Modify a Child Visitation Order?

As noted earlier, modifying an existing child visitation order is not challenging, especially when you have reasons to push for such changes. However, it’s not always a straightforward undertaking. Several approaches can be used to modify an existing visitation order, some of which have been discussed below.

Cooperative Parents

Besides the marriage being over, some parents stay on good terms for the benefit of their children. This means that the two can always agree on modifying the existing visitation order when necessary. This is always the most appropriate situation as it does not bring any legal complexities and is always a straightforward undertaking.

Modification through Mediation

It’s common for the parents not to be on good working terms to affect such modifications. That’s where third-party mediation might play a crucial role. Such parties listen to each parent independently and then come up with a solution that addresses the needs of the child while at the same time putting the interests of the parents into consideration.

Involving the Courts

In most cases, there’s still bad blood between parents, making it complicated to modify existing visitation orders through cooperation or mediation. As a measure of last resort, you can involve courts to get the necessary modifications. There’s always a higher chance that the judge will provide the essential authority needed to modify a visitation order.

However, it’s not always guaranteed that a judge will modify an existing visitation order. You must file a petition or motion that convinces the judge why such modifications are necessary. You must include some aspects in your motion to modify an existing visitation order.

  • Both parent’s names, addresses, and other personal details
  • A certified copy of the existing visitation order that you want to be modified
  • Justifiable reasons why you want the current order modified
  • Proposed modification terms

Do You Need a Lawyer to Modify a Child Visitation Order?

Family court proceedings are not always the most complex aspects. Therefore, you can easily represent yourself and can get a fair judgment. However, it’s not always advisable to represent yourself in court. You need the services of an experienced family attorney who can guide you through the entire process.

Whether you are trying to get custody of the child, to be able to write a visitation agreement, a third-party child custody or Intrastate Custody Agreements, getting a lawyer can be in your favor. The lawyer will know exactly how to present your case in family court in the best possible light, thus increasing your chances for custody or visitation.

Contact our lawyers at to learn more about getting sole or joint custody of your child.

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