Can you change a custody agreement without going to Court?
Maryland Courts prefer child custody agreements to last until the child comes of legal age, but that isn’t always the case. Parents remarry and relocate all the time, and these changes in living situations often prompt parents to amend their custody agreements.
When this happens, parents may feel they can change custody without going to Court. Revisiting the legal process can be time-consuming, expensive, and inconvenient. Yet, it’s important to recognize if and when you can change a custody agreement without going to Court to minimize expense and headache.
A skilled Howard County child custody attorney can examine your case and help you come to the right decision. Call (410) 553-5042 today.
Review your custody agreement first
When you are considering changing custody without going to Court, the first step will be to review your existing agreement to determine what it requires. As the years pass, parents may slip into habits that aren’t covered in the document but work for their lives. In other situations, one parent may lose their job and ask for leeway on custody until they are employed again.
By going back to the final document, you can refresh your memory of the actual details. Your attorney can help you understand the legal jargon and interpret it in light of the current laws for your jurisdiction.
Once you have a full understanding of the existing requirements, you’re better prepared to determine how to proceed.
Things to consider before moving forward
Potential downsides of not going to Court
It can be very tempting to simply make a verbal agreement with your co-parent that you’ll do things differently. However, changing custody without going to Court rarely works out the way you might hope.
The law teaches us that people can easily change their minds, and without a binding contract, you put yourself at risk. While you may trust the other parent to stand by their word, if you don’t go to Court and make it official, you have no legal recourse.
Investing the time and cost of requesting a modification to your custody agreement through the Court will give you peace of mind. You will have an updated document to fall back on in case your spouse remarries, moves away, or otherwise tries to dodge the terms in the custody papers.
A Court filing is required to make custody changes you can depend on
To ensure you and your children are protected, you will need to submit a request for modification to the Court. Making unapproved changes can lead to legal jeopardy for you if the other parent denies agreeing to them. They may have grounds to take legal action that finds you in contempt of Court or lost custody.
Despite how friendly and cooperative your relationship as parents may be, it’s safest to seek Court approval through the proper channels for any custody changes. Unless they are extremely minor, you and your children could face unnecessary trauma and problems.
Rather than take chances, you must speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you prepare your modifications for Court. They will manage the deadlines, paperwork, and Court appearances for the desired outcome on time.
When do I need Court approval to change my custody agreement?
You must seek the approval of a Judge in situations when the other parent is not willing to alter the agreement or if the child is in danger. It’s not possible to modify the custody without going to Court. Your attorney can help you collect the necessary documentation to demonstrate circumstances such as:
- The child is facing danger from an abusive parent.
- The other parent is abusing alcohol or drugs.
- The other parent wants to move, remarry, or has lost their job.
- The child wishes to discontinue visiting the other parent.
- The other parent is putting the child in dangerous situations.
- The other parent allows others to abuse the child or put them in dangerous situations.
- The other parent repeatedly violates the terms of the custody agreement.
- The child’s health, educational, or other needs have changed.
- The custodial parent passed away.
Your family law attorney will present arguments and evidence showing that your requested changes are in the child’s best interests. They will also help you file the appropriate forms along with any other documents, such as protective orders.
Speak with a qualified child custody attorney in Howard County to learn more
If you are still unsure about whether you can change a custody agreement without going to Court, reach out to our law firm. Attorney Fred Coover and his team are ready to listen to your story during a consultation and explain your options. Instead of being the victim of someone who goes back on their word, you can secure your future and that of your children by following the recommended legal procedures.
Contact us to learn more by calling (410) 553-5042 or using our online form today.