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Family Law Blog

How Can I Change My Child Custody Agreement?

How Can I Change My Child Custody Agreement?

During a separation, one of the hardest aspects for many parents is deciding on the arrangements for where their children will live. How they reach an agreement on the important question of “Parenting Time” usually revolves around the current relationship both parties enjoy.

If they split amicably, it tends to be a straightforward process with plenty of room for flexibility. If it was settled through a court order, there are bound to be some hard feelings on one side or the other. Despite the seemingly final nature of these court orders, there’s still several opportunities to revisit Parenting Time and Child Custody down the line. In this week’s blog, we’re going to examine the process for revisiting and changing a child custody agreement.

Please Note: In matters of Parenting Time and Child Custody, it’s always highly recommended to speak to a family law expert. If you need advice in this area, the dedicated team at Westside Family Law are ready to assist. Contact Us to find out more.

Can Custody and Parenting Arrangements be Changed in BC?

The good news is, decisions relating to parenting time and custody can be changed. However, the process for how this is achieved depends on the existing custody arrangement. If the parents have an amicable relationship, it’s likely they can come to an agreement on changes without going through the BC court system. If you proceed down this path, it’s crucial to still work with a family lawyer before entering into any agreement. They will help you understand the legal implications of any changes, and provide support in preparing an amendment to an existing agreement, or preparing a new child custody agreement.

What if one parent doesn’t agree to the change?

Several scenarios exist in which a change to an existing parenting agreement is needed, but one parent can’t, or won’t, agree to the change. For example, if one parent has developed a substance abuse problem over time, that would stand against the best interests of a child and would represent grounds to make a change.

Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation can be applicable in some instances, but a return to the court system is the typical way these issues are resolved.

How the Courts Handle a Change in Child Custody

Ultimately, BC courts will not make a change to an existing order or agreement without a strong reason to do so. Any parent looking to make a change must prove there has been a material change in circumstances that impact upon the needs, means and continuing development of the child.

Material changes include:

  •   A child no longer wishing to have contact with a parent
  •   A parent wanting to move out of Province with a child
  •   Drug or alcohol abuse on the part of a parent
  •   Abuse or alienation of the child by a parent

If one of these criteria is met, the court will make a fresh assessment on what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. If a change in custody or parenting time is deemed best for the child, the court will be inclined to grant the change.

Get in Touch

If you have questions or concerns about child custody and parenting time, contact us today to speak with a lawyer. We are hard at work to ensure you and your child’s best interests are safeguarded during this stressful time.