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Steps you must take to modify a parenting plan

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Child Custody

Even when divorced parents are on relatively good terms, there are still many challenges. One challenge that frequently arises involves one of the parties wanting to modify a parenting plan.

This is common as the child matures and their needs change — or when one of the parent’s needs change. For parents who want to modify the parenting plan, it does not need to be a difficult endeavor. Flexibility and understanding can be beneficial and a negotiated settlement can be reached. Independent of the circumstances, it is wise to know how the law assesses these issues.

Know the rules for modifying a parenting plan

When there is a permanent parenting plan in place and the parties want to modify the current residential schedule, it cannot be done until a final hearing is held and the sides agree or the court determines that there is a likelihood of the child being substantially harmed without changing the order.

Should the sides agree to modify the permanent plan and they inform the court of the agreement and its details or formulate their own plan to modify the prior order, then the court does not need to conduct any further inquiries about it. Nor will it need to make its own assessment regarding the agreement and whether it serves the child’s best interests – the primary factor with custody, parenting time and any other child-related issue.

However, if the court does not think that the modification is in the child’s best interests, feels an inquiry is needed or has been willingly agreed to by both parents, it does not need to approve it. In cases where there might have been threats or coercion, the court can delve deeper into the situation to make its determination.

Be prepared to address parenting time disputes and modifications

Custody and parenting time modifications are frequent parts of a family law case. Some parents will want to change the agreement to adapt to new circumstances such as a pending vacation, wanting to have the child for a longer period in the summer or for other viable reasons.

Regardless of why and if the parties are amicable or contentious, it is vital to be fully cognizant of how the courts will handle these cases. Often, negotiation can be effective and avoid a long and costly process. No matter what, having a grasp of the steps is critical to achieve the objectives and protect the child.