As the months turn to years, you may find that it’s necessary to modify a child custody agreement. Since you can’t do this without consulting the other parent, it’s important to understand the steps you can take.

Here are the three most common ways to modify a child custody order:

  • By agreement: You can work with the other parent to create a new agreement. As long as both of you agree on the details and the agreement is approved by a judge, the new plan will go into effect.
  • By hearing: If you’re unable to work things out on your own, you’ll need to go to court to make changes. You can start by requesting a modification. When doing so, proving a change in circumstances, such as a child starting school or relocation, will work in your favor.
  • By mediation: If you can’t figure things out on your own but don’t want to go to court, mediation is an idea to consider. This allows you, the other parent and a mediator to sit down and discuss your situation. If you reach an agreement, the mediator can create a new order and submit it to the court for approval.

In a perfect world, you and your ex-spouse will work together to modify a child custody agreement. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, especially if there are bad feelings or you don’t totally agree on the new terms.

If you find yourself at odds, learn more about the next steps in the process and what you can do to protect your legal rights as a parent.