A child custody agreement, usually part of a final divorce decree, includes court-ordered arrangements related to whether parents share custody, if one parent has primary custody and if noncustodial parents have visitation rights. However, we all know that circumstances in our lives can change quickly, and in these situations it may be necessary to seek a modification of your original child custody agreement.
It’s important to note that this process is not always easy, and you must demonstrate a significant change in your living situation, income or ability to support yourself or your children physically, mentally or financially. Most importantly, time is of the essence when it comes to modifying your child custody court order in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Promptly addressing the issue shows the court the necessity of the situation, and provides for a more compelling argument when seeking the modification.
The next step is to build your case for why the change is necessary. For example, you might have taken a significant pay decrease, lost your employment or have experienced an abrupt change in hours of availability, such as beginning to work nights and weekends instead of weekday hours. Or, your job may require you to move too far away from your children to visit them as often as your custody order dictates.
After you have assembled this information, you should determine whether both parents would agree to the change without any disputes. If so, all that is required is a judge in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands approving the change, as long as the new terms are legal and are in the children’s best interest. In some cases, the court may allow children over the age of 12 to provide their input on the potential modification.
If you and the other parent do not agree on the modification, you may need to go to court and argue your case before the judge. As an alternative, it may be possible to engage in alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, to work out any areas of disagreement with the other parent.
The final step is the court’s final decision on the modification, which usually takes about 30 days from the hearing. If approved, your new child custody order will go into effect right away. If denied, you may need to appeal the decision, working with your family law attorney.
BoltNagi is a well-established and widely respected family law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.