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When is modification to a child custody agreement warranted?

When you and your co-parent drafted your child custody agreement with the help of your attorneys, you likely worked to make it as adaptable as possible to your children's changing needs as they got older. No one wants to go back to court and modify their agreement if they don't have to.

Further, judges generally won't approve changes to an agreement that is working. Modifications usually mean making changes to children's schedules, living arrangements and way of life. Judges usually won't do that for what they consider to be frivolous reasons.

However, sometimes a modification to the agreement is in the best interests of your children. Obviously, if a child's safety or health is at risk by being with one of their parents, the other parent has an obligation to take whatever legal steps are necessary to protect that child.

However, there are other times when a modification may be necessary, such as if a parent is considering relocating. Under Tennessee law, if a parent "who is spending intervals of time with a child" is planning to move to another state and/or more than 50 miles away from the other parent, they must provide notice to that parent. If the co-parents can't agree on a new custody or visitation schedule necessitated by the move, they will need to go to court. If you or your co-parent is considering relocating, it's best to talk with your attorney as soon as possible.

If your co-parent isn't following the terms of your agreement, this can be disruptive to your children's lives -- and yours. If they're not showing up on time for custody exchanges or visits, neglecting to return children as scheduled or not abiding by other terms in your agreement, they're likely creating stress for your kids.

It's best when parents can work out these issues on their own. If you have a detailed custody agreement and parenting plan in place, you have a strong foundation for asking your co-parent to follow the rules you've agreed to. However, it may be necessary to add some detail to your agreement or make changes if one parent isn't able to abide by the one in place.

Whether you choose mediation to resolve your child custody issues or take them before a judge, your Tennessee family law attorney can provide valuable guidance and help you work to protect your children's interests.

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