Custody and Visitation Plans
Creating a child custody and visitation plan can be a difficult process, so when it is finally approved by a judge, it can be a huge relief for both parents and children alike. However, just because a plan is in place does not mean that it is always followed. Circumstances change, and along with those life changes come changes to custody arrangements as well.
Sometimes, both parents agree that a custody arrangement is not working. Perhaps one of the parents had to move for work, or has re-married and now has even more children; these things happen. If both mom and dad agree that the custody order needs to change, you can apply for a modification to the order. The courts really don't like to shake up a child's routine, so in order to have the agreement modified, you must show there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that a new order will affect the child in a positive way.
There are also situations where one parent is simply not holding up his end of the bargain when it comes to the custody agreement. It is not uncommon for a parent to cancel on "their days" or to drop the child off to the other parent later than arranged. Emergencies happen, so if this occurs only rarely and the child is not in danger, don't run to the court right away.
Consider keeping a visitation journal to document dates, times, and any negative words that are exchanged. Be sure to take note of any time the other parent breaks the visitation agreement, with a memo of the circumstances. Once this has happened more than a few times over the course of a few months, visit your lawyer and see what can be done. That journal serves as your proof in a court of law that the other parent is not following the rules of the custody order. He can be held in contempt of court and modifications to the order could be made.
If you would like help establishing child custody in Virginia or modifying a current agreement, contact the Richmond and Williamsburg offices of Smith Strong for a consultation by calling 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg).