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Back to school may be a good time to review custody arrangements

It's back! Autumnal weather, backpacks, new schoolbooks and new schedules. Extracurricular activities can send kids and parents in many directions. New friendships can blossom around the corner or across town. Transportation can turn into an Olympic sport for some parents -- especially those that co-parent.

As schedules change, so do family needs

Events like these may make changing your parenting time schedule something to consider. In family law, it is rare to have custody agreements that never change. As parents move into other careers and kids pick up new activities, many factors can indicate that a modification is in order. How, then, should parents go about doing that?

First, a couple can simply agree to make the changes. Maybe Mom has started working evenings and needs Dad to take the kids during the week now, while she has them on the weekend. Perhaps Junior needs to be with Dad on the weekends because Dad coaches his traveling soccer team, while Mom keeps the other children home with her. Parents do not necessarily need to file paperwork if they can come to a good faith agreement.

Putting it in writing

There is, however, a caveat to that. If during the agreement one parent chooses no longer to abide by the change, the custody agreement codified in the court order takes precedence, and it does so immediately. In addition, a change of custody without a modification of child support could leave one or both parents not making appropriate payments.

A safer solution is to consult with respective attorneys, draft a new agreement that meets the current needs of the family, and file it with the court. It is a straightforward procedure that does not require a court visit and is generally cost-efficient, as well.

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