When you and your child’s other parent ended your romantic relationship, you likely drew up a legally-enforceable parenting plan as an element of your child custody order. Over time, one or more terms within that parenting plan may have become unmanageable, irrelevant or no longer reflective of your child’s best interests. If so, know that you can modify your parenting plan.
You can either modify your parenting plan via mutual agreement or via a formal modification request submitted to the court. The direction you’ll want to take will depend upon how your co-parent feels about making a change.
If your co-parent agrees
If you and your co-parent agree on any changes that you’d like to make to your parenting plan, you can submit a request for modification to the court to have it approved. If you don’t take this step, one or both of you may technically be in violation of your current order. Getting a modification formally approved will protect both of your rights and ensure that the changes you’ve made remain legally enforceable.
If your co-parent doesn’t agree
If you and your co-parent don’t agree that your parenting plan and/or parenting time order should be modified, the one seeking the modification will need to fight for approval of that change in court. Before a judge will approve a modification request, it must generally be proven that the change reflects the affected child’s best interests and that circumstances have fundamentally changed since the original order was handed down.
If you’re thinking about modifying your parenting plan, take care to ensure that these changes reflect your child’s best interests. That way, if your child’s other parent doesn’t agree to your proposal and you need to go to court, you’ll place yourself in the best possible position of getting your modification request approved by the judge assigned to your case.