When you and your child’s other parent decided to end your romantic relationship, the court likely required you to enter into a co-parenting agreement – sometimes referred to as a parenting plan or a parenting time arrangement – as part of your broader child custody order. The terms of your parenting plan may have made perfect sense at the time but now your circumstances or your child’s needs may have changed.
If you’re thinking about modifying your parenting plan, you’ll want to keep in mind that your current plan is part of your current child custody order. Meaning, it can only be modified if you and your co-parent agree on the changes and ask the court to formalize them or if you file a formal modification request with the court and the court grants it over any objections raised by your co-parent.
Crafting modification language effectively
Just as family law courts are bound to resolve child custody dispute differences according to the “best interests of the child” standard, they are also bound to resolve modification disputes according to this standard. Therefore, if you know or suspect that your co-parent will object to a modification request, you’ll want to phrase your changes with this standard in mind. That way, you’ll stand a better chance of having a judge grant your request.
If you and your co-parent agree on the changes, you’ll want to be forward-thinking in how they’re phrased. Ask yourself if structuring your modification a certain way could help you to avoid needing to submit additional modifications to the court in the future.
Thinking critically about how you want to modify your parenting plan and what the modification process is likely to entail for your family will help you to make informed choices about your options. And, if you’re in a contentious situation, thinking critically will help you to evaluate whether you’re truly prepared to navigate a legal case.