Can She Change the Child Custody Agreement?

Divorce lawyer Kline liked to be in his office early in the morning before the phones started ringing, clients started filling the waiting room, and the other lawyers started asking him questions.

He turned on the Nespresso machine, poured some flavored creamer into his coffee mug, and punched up the next email that looked interesting. This one was from a father whom Kline had represented in a divorce. The couple had a son together and their child custody battle was a bitter one.

The father was 15 minutes late to pick up the child and the mother had refused to allow the visitation.

“Can she just make up rules like that and change the custody agreement whenever she feels like it?” the father asked.

Kline sipped his hot coffee, watched the creamer swirl in it, and then pecked out this reply on his computer:

“Neither one of you can change the agreement without the consent of the other or a court order. However, there is an implied provision of good faith and fair dealing in every agreement, which means: (a) both of you should be willing to make some reasonable accommodation in scheduling the calls; and (b) both of you should strive to be on time for pickups and dropoffs.”

Kline hit the send button, took another sip of coffee, and scrolled down, searching for another problem in need of a solution.