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When you go through a divorce, it may seem like all the agreements you sign are set in stone. However, it is inevitable that circumstances in your life or in the life of your ex-spouse change over time.

The courts recognize that ex-spouses may need to request changes or modifications to divorce settlements and child custody agreements in the future. Therefore, it is important for you to understand how you may request changes and what you need to do if something in your life changes and you need to approach the courts.

Avoid informal agreements

If you are on good terms with your ex-spouse, you may feel it is in everyone’s best interest to simply make an informal verbal agreement about changes. While it is beneficial to be on positive terms with your ex, especially regarding your children together, informal agreements are not a good idea. First of all, the court can only enforce your formal agreement, not any informal arrangement you and your ex make. That being the case, if circumstances change or your ex contends that he or she never made the informal agreement, you have no legal recourse. While temporary changes do not generally present any major issues, if you want to implement a permanent change to your child custody court order, you should file a motion with the court.

Consider the reason for the change

When you petition the court to make a change to the child custody agreement, the court will want to know the reason why you are requesting the child custody modification. You cannot modify your child custody order on a whim; the circumstances must be sufficiently significant to warrant an official change. Examples of these reasons include a move, loss of a job or a new marriage. The court wants to see that the situation has changed in such a way that it is no longer possible for one or both of the spouses to adhere to the previous agreement. If there is a change in your circumstances that warrants a request to modify your child custody arrangement, rest assured that you do have legal options.