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Basic questions in modification cases

Although Father’s Day is many months away, there are a number of unmarried fathers who are not in their children’s lives or do not see them on a regular basis. They may be estranged from the children’s mother or they may be incarcerated. Whatever the reason, fathers may not have the type of access to kids that will ensure a strong relationship with them.

In these situations, it is important to seek court intervention to make sure these relationships are recognized by law, and that parents are held accountable for making sure that parenting time is given to both parents.

Because of how the law is structured, fathers who have children out of wedlock must petition the court to establish paternity as well as custody and parenting time. For those who have established orders identifying them as the biological father, but the custody and parenting time orders are not commensurate with their level of involvement. 

When this happens, it may be helpful to ask the court to modify the current order and change the parenting plan. With a modification motion, the court will consider a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

The relationship between the parent and child – Essentially, the court wants to know that a change in the current order will be in the child’s best interests. A parent may not be successful with a modification motion simply because he or she wants more time with the child.

The types of changes made – This includes different exchange dates and times or changes to transportation responsibilities.

The other parent’s actions – Is one parent using or abusing drugs, or is there child abuse involved. Courts also look at actions to deny parenting time.

For those who need assistance with modification motions, a family law attorney can help.

Source:, “What kids want for New Year’s,” Beverly Willett, January 7, 2014

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