You can count yourself lucky if you were able to negotiate a fair and agreeable co-parenting plan in your divorce without having to go through a contentious battle in court. Some situations are a lot less amicable and can take weeks or months to resolve. The fact that you and your ex are among those in Connecticut who were able to peacefully resolve the issues pertaining to your children when you decided to divorce is evidence that you both have their best interests in mind, which is good.
That doesn't necessarily mean your existing court order is set in stone, however. Any number of issues may prompt a need for you to seek the court's approval for modification of your custody, visitation or support agreement. For instance, if you're paying child support and you lose your job, you may be temporarily unable to keep making payments. The key factor is to obtain court approval before making any changes.
Are you facing one of these issues?
The Connecticut family law court has full discretion to make custody decisions on a case-by-case basis. The following list includes reasons the court may consider valid to grant a modification of the terms of an existing court order:
- Child endangerment: Your children's safety is of paramount importance to the court. If you believe a substance, physical or emotional abuse issue is causing detriment to your children, you can seek the court's intervention right away.
- Change of location: There was no guarantee when you signed your co-parenting plan that both you and your ex would always live in the same location where you happened to reside at that time. The court recognizes that life changes such as relocation often prompt a need to modify court orders.
- Death or incapacitation: If a parent dies or suffers mental or physical incapacitation, the court would do whatever necessary to modify the existing custody plan.
- Ex refuses to obey existing order: If your co-parent keeps ignoring the terms of your existing court order, you can ask the judge overseeing your case to address the situation.
Even if you and your ex discuss a particular issue and agree that you need to change the way you currently do things, you are not legally free to do so unless and until the court grants its permission. Similar to writing the terms of your own co-parenting plan then seeking the court's approval, you must submit an official request for a change, and the court must approve it before you implement a new plan.