Child Custody Agreements: Legal Adjustments For Unexpected Life Events

At its core, a child custody agreement is about agreeing to a schedule that works for your child, your ex-spouse, and you. Unfortunately, life doesn't always go to plan. When you're forced to change the terms of your child custody agreement, it's often a good idea to have an experienced family law firm on your side.

Here are some innovative legal strategies to help modify an existing child custody agreement.

Formally Taking a Break

If recent events, say a Global pandemic or a change in your employment status, fundamentally change your life, your child custody agreement will likely need to change too.

Temporary Stay

Whether you and your ex-spouse have been splitting weekday, weekends, months, or days, a government stay at home or shelter in place order might make it impossible or unsafe for you to continue your court-ordered custody agreement. The first step to modifying your agreement is formerly petition for a temporary stay in the custody agreement. In many states, this allows parents and legal guardians to modify their child custody agreements for a short period (30, 60, 90 days, etc.). If you and your ex choose not to file a stay in the order, then things can get quite messy. For instance, if your communication breaks down or you can't settle on a suitable compromise, your ex-spouse may involve the authorities. In this case, the authorities will be compelled to follow the original custody agreement even if it might not be practical or feasible.

Striking a Temporary Compromise

Once you and your ex-spouse formally request a temporary stay in your child custody agreement, you can begin to work on an acceptable, temporary, compromise.

Set Dates 

Even if your lives might seem uncertain, establishing firm dates to re-negotiate or revisit your temporary modifications tends to make for better compromises. For instance, you might have the temporary modifications you make to your child custody agreement expire at the end of the school year. These dates can allow you to make more informed decisions rather than speculating about a future you can't guarantee.


With courthouses closed and severely backlogged, your family practice lawyer can push for mediation over court intervention. Mediating will save both you and your ex-spouse time and money. It can also allow you and your ex-spouse to communicate in a safe and constructive environment. Although mediation sessions aren't legally binding, they create a factual record that can be used in a family law court.

For more information, reach out to someone like Kenneth J. Molnar.