Changing Child Custody Agreements? What You Need To Know.

There are times when circumstances require us to change ongoing child custody agreements, either under or out of our control. More often than not, these adjustments to decisions involve more than ourselves.

These occurrences to lawfully imposed agreements are commonplace in South Africa and changes can be made in front of a judge if preferred. A child’s/children’s parents and guardians often change custody agreements, whether small or all-encompassing adjustments.

The same way child custody settlement agreements are made, these changes can be made. As the changes are always firstly made in the best interest of the child, parents and/or guardians can reach an out-of-court agreement that is adjudicated by attorneys and lawyers that are able to submit the changes to the court.  The South African Family Court will not accept changes that impact negatively on the child.  In a case where the change requires a change in residency from one guardian to another, it is important to keep in mind that the court is unlikely to agree to the change without sufficient reason to do so.

An adjustment to visitation rights is a very good example of an out-of-court agreement. This could be seen when a father, who’s very young child stays in Johannesburg with his mother, works in Durban and requires supervision when visiting with the infant because he is unfamiliar with the routine of looking after a baby. Circumstances could change, however, after some time if he starts to live and work in Johannesburg, and both parents agree that he should be allowed reasonable contact with the youngster. In this case, an attorney can draft a change that will be accepted by the family court judge.

There are, unfortunately, times when one or both guardians/parents want to enforce contradictory changes. In this instance, the process is much like an overall settlement agreement within the court. Changes and amendments that are disputed, are filed with the court before a hearing takes place with the assistance of attorneys. The best interests of the child are paramount, and it must be remembered that a judge will likely place his or her decision within that context in mind.

In a case of a disputed change when one parent or guardian or associate of the child believes that the child’s guardian or contact is no longer fit to uphold the current arrangements, it is essential for the complainant to present evidence and/or witnesses that can provide proof for the allegations.  For example,  a young child’s father has visitation rights with the child and is suspected of using drugs when in contact with the child over a weekend. The mother, who is the primary guardian, can submit changes to the custody agreement through her attorney. A court hearing will take place where the father can challenge the change. When this happens the importance of proof of the allegations is extremely vital.

For more information and or to set up a consultation with one of our child custody attorneys to assist in your custody agreement changes, contact us today.