Timing Is Key What Matters Most Modifying Child Custody Agreements
THE Stevens Firm, P.A. Family Law Center
349 E. Main Street, Suite 200, Spartanburg, SC 29302 • www.SCFamilyLaw.com • (864) 598-9172 July 2018
If you’re thinking about modifying your current child custody order, you may be wondering how long you need to wait after the order has become official. Truthfully, there is no correct amount of time you should wait before filing for a modification. You can technically file to modify a previous order the day after the order has become official. However, we don’t recommend this practice, since in order for the judge to approve a change, you have to be able to prove a substantial change in circumstances. But custody orders can be changed frequently due to facts and evidence. In our experience, there are certain times of the year when you have a better chance of the court deciding in your favor. For example, the court is much less likely to modify custody during the school year, especially when the changes you’re requesting require the child to move to a different school district. We typically see custody modification cases between the months of May and August and then again between late November and early January. When temporary orders are issued during these times, it helps keep a child’s routine intact and ensures they don’t have to deal with distractions during the school year. Unless there are special or emergency circumstances, if a client wants to file a custody modification outside of these time frames, our advice is typically to wait until it’s conducive to the child’s schedule.
One of the most common reasons a parent wants to modify their custody agreement is because of a new job, a new relationship, or they have remarried. In the latter two examples, it’s not uncommon that the other parent doesn’t like the idea of a new parental figure coming into the picture,
which prompts them to seek more rights within their custody agreement. While most attorneys usually suggest mediation before litigation, more often than not, exes don’t have any desire to see a mediator.
“Unless there are special or emergency circumstances, if a client wants to file a custody modification outside of these time frames, our advice is typically to wait until it’s conducive to the child’s schedule.”
Certain circumstances warrant quick custody modifications. These can be cases where physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and criminal activity are suspected. Cases like these tend to be clear-cut in the court’s eyes, and decisions are often made quickly, especially when the attorney requests an emergency hearing, in order to protect the children from potential harm. Most custody cases last a year from start to finish, but under exceptional circumstances, they can be much shorter. If you are considering filing for a custody modification, call our team today. We can help you determine when and how to file your case based on your specific circumstances, and we can offer solutions to best help your family adjust during the process.
Reminder About Our Firm’s Communication Policy Our promise to you is that while we are working on your case, we don’t take inbound phone calls, faxes, or emails. Our senior partner, Ben Stevens, takes no unscheduled inbound phone calls, as we have found this makes him much more productive and enables him to focus on getting your case resolved faster. You can always call our office at (864) 598-9172 and schedule an in-person or phone appointment with any of our attorneys, usually within 24–48 hours. We believe this approach is much better than the endless game of phone tag played by most businesses today. Email is also an efficient way to communicate with us, but please
be advised that emails are not typically checked more than twice per day. If you need something quickly, don’t email — call our office and speak with one of our assistants, who will be happy to help you. Disclaimer: This publication is intended to educate the general public about family law issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. Every case is different. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed so long as the newsletter is copied in its entirety and proper credit is attributed to “The Stevens Firm, P.A. — Family Law Center (SCFamilyLaw.com).”
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