Like most parents in Tennessee, your children are your top priority. Finding the right way to prioritize them during and after a divorce can be difficult though, especially when things are not working out as you expected. Modifying your child custody agreement, support order or both might be necessary in this type of situation.
You will need the court’s approval to modify a child custody or support order. Although it might be tempting to rely on a verbal agreement with your child’s other parent, this is not enforceable in court and could potentially have long-reaching consequences. For example, the court could still hold you responsible for the full amount of child support, even if your ex agrees to accept less.
What If I Want More Time with My Child?
It is understandable that you want to play a more active role in your child’s life. To avoid any unintended consequences, you should be sure to go about getting more parenting time the correct way. Some parents try to withhold child support payments as a bargaining tactic to get more time, but this often backfires.
You can face legal consequences for withholding child support. Not only would this not help you make your case for more parenting time, but it would also harm your child. The best way to get more parenting time with your child is to petition for a modification of your custody order.
What If I Want to Make More Decisions?
Even if you do not share physical custody, you might still want to play an active role in your child’s life. One way of doing this is by being actively involved in decision-making. Sharing joint legal custody with your ex would allow you to help make decisions regarding your child’s:
- Medical care
If your current custody agreement does not grant you joint legal custody, you could petition the court for a modification. You do not have to ask for more physical custody in order to get legal custody, either. This means that you could live in a different state from your child and still do your best to be involved in decision-making about his or her life.
What If My Ex Is Interfering with Custody?
Most judges take interference quite seriously. Whether your ex is routinely dropping your child off late, not showing for pickups, or failing to send child support checks, you need to take action. Asking for an enforcement of a current order or a modification are just two options at your disposal.
Life is full of changes, and what worked for you and your child at the time of your divorce might no longer be appropriate. If this is the case, you should prepare to ask for a modification of your child custody or support order in as timely a manner as possible. This is especially important for support orders, as modifications do not apply retroactively.