The arrangements that work well during a marriage aren’t always as beneficial after spouses separate. You may realize in the early days of your divorce that working 2nd or 3rd shift limits your parenting time options now that your spouse isn’t home to help.
Some parents can make late shifts work while sharing custody after divorce. Others find that moving to a daytime shift or some kind of alternating schedule will make it easier for them to spend time with their children.
Your custody order probably reflects your unusual work schedule. What should you do when your availability changes and you have the opportunity to spend more time with the kids?
Parents always have the option of asking for custody changes
When the judge who oversaw your divorce enters the final decrees, they officially set child support and custody obligations for both parents. Although you can just go to your ex and ask to spend a bit more time with your kids, they may not agree to give you more time. Even if they do, they can take back that permission at any point.
When you have more time to spend with the children because of a shift change, you may need to consider asking for a custody modification. Provided that you can show a significant change in your circumstances, like a total shift in your schedule, the courts will consider making changes to the parenting plan if such changes are in the best interest of the children.
Getting to spend more time with you will likely benefit the kids if you currently only get to see them a few days a week. More equal parenting time arrangements keep both parents really involved in the lives of the kids, which is good for the whole family. The courts may agree to give you more parenting time and will likely change the custody terms to reflect your new schedule as well.
Your ex doesn’t have to agree for a modification to occur
Sometimes, both parents agree that a change is necessary and file an uncontested modification together. Other times, the parents don’t see eye-to-eye about what changes would benefit their family.
If your ex does not want to give up any of their parenting time so that you can be with the kids more, you may need to file a contested modification where the courts make the ultimate decision about changes to your custody arrangements.