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If you're ready for more parenting time, consider a modification

There's a common but inaccurate belief that custody terms are set in stone and permanent when you divorce. When the courts issue an order allocating parental responsibilities, including parenting time, decision-making authority and child support, those orders are meant to help provide for the best interests of the children. It's natural to assume that those terms are final and permanent.

In reality, the conditions of your parenting plan can change at any time if you or your ex request a modification from the courts. The Colorado courts understand that life situations change, so you do have the opportunity to request a review of your parenting plan and allocated parental responsibilities at any time after the finalization of your divorce.

Focus on the needs of your children, not your own

When the courts decide how to allocate parental responsibilities in a divorce, the focus should always be on the best interests of the children. The same is true for you and your ex. You should always do your best to make decisions that reflect the social, emotional and physical needs of your children before all else. That means you need to consider if additional time with you outweighs disruption of the established routine in their lives.

The courts will generally want to protect the children's relationships with both parents, barring situations involving domestic violence or substance abuse. When you seek a modification for increased parenting time, it's often a wise choice to frame your request from the perspective of providing additional support for the children and building the relationship. Especially in cases where your ex is alienating you from the children, establishing the importance of your relationship with them is crucial.

There are many reasons to seek a modification

There are countless reasons why a parent needs to ask the courts to reconsider the allocation of parental responsibilities. Perhaps you failed to adequately advocate for yourself during the initial divorce, resulting in a poor outcome with limited parenting time for you. Maybe you had issues, ranging from loss of a job to military service, that precluded you providing a home and care for a while.

Other issues that can result in uneven division of parenting time include substance abuse, a history of spousal or child abuse, and even refusing to comply with temporary support and visitation orders during divorce proceedings. People in any of these situations have the right to seek a modification of the parenting plan and increased time with their children.

Even parents who receive little parenting time or visitation due to addiction or behavioral problems can seek a modification. Evidence of rehabilitation, addiction therapy or counseling to address mental health issues can demonstrate to the courts your willingness to put the needs of your children first. Protecting your time and relationship with your children is a worthwhile endeavor.

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