For many people who have experienced a protracted divorce, finally being done with court proceedings is often a relief. Once you have finished court proceedings and paid off your legal bills, you may have the desire to avoid family court for the rest of your life, if possible.

While such an aversion is perfectly normal, don’t let your feelings about the costs, time implications and frustrations of court prevent you from going back when it becomes necessary. There are situations in which your custody arrangement may no longer meet your family’s needs. When that happens, it may be time to think about getting a custody modification to your divorce decree.

Modifications become necessary when a child’s needs change

The kind of parental support a toddler needs is going to be substantially different than the parental support required for a middle-school student. When the terms set in your custody order don’t address your child’s social or educational needs, or when the current custody order arrangements prevent one parent from being as present as they could be, it may be time to consider a modification.

Changes in a health or relationship status can affect custody

If you experience a medical event, like a heart attack, you may not be able to fulfill parental duties for several weeks. If you or your ex have a much more long-lasting condition, like muscular dystrophy or cancer, your custody order may need to change to reflect the current abilities and needs of the parents.

It’s also possible that your availability for parenting may change as you enter a new relationship. The same could be true for your ex. Additionally, if your ex has a new partner with a history of violence or child abuse, you may need to ask the courts to change the custody order to protect your children from that volatile element.

Stabilized living circumstances can lead to modifications

Some people have a hard time regaining control over their lives in the aftermath of a divorce. Everything from job prospects to their living arrangements may be up in the air during the divorce.

A parent with unstable circumstances may not receive as much parenting time or parental authority as one who has had time to settle into their new situation. Additionally, if the courts limited your parenting time because of addiction or other issues, demonstrating that you have made necessary changes in your life may be enough to justify asking for a modification and more time with your kids.