I get many calls from parents wanting to change, or modify, their parenting plan. The problem lies in that their reason for the change may not meet the legal requirements for a change to the parenting plan. In order to modify a parenting plan, there must be a 1) substantial, 2) material, and 3) unanticipated change in circumstances and a showing that the modification is in the best interests of the child.
Parents think that just because a parenting plan is no longer working for them, that is reason enough for a change. It may be, if you can get the other parent to agree and both of you can come to a joint agreement for an amended parenting plan. However, if the other parent does not agree, and you are attempting to petition the court for a modification to the parenting plan, the legal standard above must be met.
A remarriage, a new child, a new job, or a new move, are typically not enough, unless there are unusual circumstances. The courts have usually ruled that these circumstances are expected in life and are not unanticipated. It is definitely not enough that the other parent is just being difficult. It is best that you have an experienced family law attorney by your side to advise you and determine if you meet the legal standard. Also, you might be able to utilize an attorney through some sort of alternative dispute resolution to stay out of court and arrive at an amended parenting plan outside of court.
My best advise is to utilize an attorney from the beginning. It seems that most of my calls from parents wanting to modify their parenting plans are from parents that did not use an attorney in their divorce. They “did it themselves.” And now they are realizing all of the many situations they did not think through very clearly and need help sorting out. If you are going through a divorce or need help with a modification, contact Heather Bryan Law for your consultation today, online or at 863-825-5309.