If you've just hammered out your first visitation agreement after a custody battle and divorce, you might be thinking that things are done and dusted. But they are not: life goes on, and people and situations change. Some situations are almost guaranteed to come up, so it may be a good idea to start thinking about how you'd handle something like what you will do if your child wants to change the schedule or if someone moves away. Doing that now can help you have your priorities in place once renegotiation becomes an issue.
The Child's Schedule
Older children generally have more to do, be it school plays or after-school jobs. You can't realistically demand that your child never do anything outside of school that might conflict with a visitation agreement. (You can try, but you will be in for a world of hurt with your child). More realistically, you can try to work something out so that your child has one weekend day free to see the other parent if a part-time job starts to encroach on the visitation schedule.
The Child's Preference
As the child gets older, especially as he or she becomes a teenager, you could see the child start to want a different schedule. If your ex-spouse has custody on weekends, for example, and your child prefers to spend Friday nights with his or her friends or wants to go to school dances, that could require a renegotiation that allows the child to go to your ex-spouse on Saturday mornings. Or the child might have a falling out with the other parent and not want to go over there for a while. You have to start thinking about which issues would be important enough to reopen and redo the agreement.
Changes Due to Moving
Much of the attention surrounding renegotiation of a visitation schedule centers on the custodial parent moving far away with the child. However, if the noncustodial parent moves away, that too necessitates a renegotiation of the visitation schedule. It could be that the noncustodial parent will have no weekends but will have spring break or the entire summer. It could be that the noncustodial parent wants holidays instead. There are too many variables to come up with a plan in your head right now, but start thinking about which times of the year would be best for you and the child (whether you're the custodial or noncustodial parent) so that you know which days you'd really want to try to get and which ones you'd be okay not getting if your ex-spouse objected.
Even if you and your ex-spouse are in agreement over the changes, it's best to have lawyers add their blessing to the new agreement, just so all of you are sure that you're doing things the right way. Contact your lawyer or another child-custody lawyer, such as William Kirby, Family Law Attorney, for a consultation.