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Can You Change Your Visitation Schedule?

Visitation schedules are mandated by a court as part of a child custody order. A visitation schedule can always be modified by agreement of the parents. If one parent will not agree to a change, however, the other parent may ask the court to intervene.

Until recently, to have a court change a visitation schedule, the requesting parent had to show a “substantial, material and permanent change in circumstances” since the schedule was set. In the 2021 Swiney v. Villanueva  case, however, the Oklahoma Court of Appeals ruled that a non-custodial parent did not have to meet that standard to have visitation changed. The non-custodial parent need only show that it would be in the best interests of the child to have the visitation schedule changed, which are the same factors courts consider when initially granting visitation.

This is a big change and should make it easier for non-custodial parents to have the court modify a visitation schedule. Whether or not you were denied a request to modify visitation before, an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney can evaluate your chances of obtaining a modification under this new legal principle.

The concept of “the best interests of the child” is well established in the law. The court will consider the child’s needs and each parent’s ability to meet those needs. Courts commonly look at the following factors:

  • how much each parent is committed to the child having a good relationship with the other parent
  • the physical and mental health and overall stability of each parent
  • a parent’s history of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence
  • a parent’s addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • the educational and emotional needs of the child
  • how the child has adjusted to any changes in his or her school, community or home
  • the child’s connection with siblings and other family members
  • in some cases, the child’s preference

If there are concerns about substance abuse or a history of violence, the court may limit the affected parent to supervised visitation. In supervised visitation, you may not see your child without another adult being present. If you initially are ordered to have only supervised visitation, but your life circumstances have improved, you can petition the court to remove the limitation that visitation must be supervised. As always, you will have to show that the visitation change is in the best interest of your child.

At the Lindsey Law Firm, P.C., attorney Lindsey offers experienced and effective legal representation to parents in custody and visitation matters. Call the firm at 918-587-0097 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation at our Tulsa office.

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  • Tulsa Office
    1612 S Denver Ave.
    Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
    Phone: 918-587-0097
    Fax: 918-587-3763
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