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Keys to Success When Modifying Your Parenting Plan

Updated on March 4, 2012

While the parenting plan you agreed to at the time of your divorce is considered a permanent plan, there are many instances where modifying your parenting plan is necessary. Whether the original plan was created by you alone, you and the other parent, or the judge, that parenting plan can be modified as your circumstances change.

A thoughtful parenting plan is essential in creating a stable and loving environment for your children as your lives change over the years.
A thoughtful parenting plan is essential in creating a stable and loving environment for your children as your lives change over the years. | Source

Modification Can Benefit Children

There are several reasons why you might find it necessary to request changes to the current parenting plan. The circumstances that were present at the time of your divorce that lead to the creating of that parenting plan will likely change over the years. Modifying the custody schedule is a very common reason to ask for changes as everyone's lives evolve.

Some of the life-changing events that may affect your current parenting plan include:

  • Growth and development of your children, requiring new scheduling
  • Increased extracurricular activities for children
  • Employment for teenage children
  • Change in job for you or the other parent
  • Change in residence for you or the other parent
  • Remarriage for you or the other parent
  • Disability or other physical problem with you or the other parent
  • Unfit parent status for you or the other parent

As you present your proposed changes to the family court, the judge will review them and determine whether they help or hurt the children. If you can clearly show the modifications will improve the children’s lives, it is likely that your revisions will be approved.

Know the Process

When you wish to modify the parenting plan, it helps to know the process you must go through. While each state my include variations to the procedure, modifying a parenting plan will generally follow these six steps.

To modify your current parenting plan, you’ll have to go through these steps:

  1. Create a document that outlines the changes you want to make to the parenting plan. Custody X Change software can help you do this and print out a sample to present at court. Do this on your own or with the other parent.
  2. Gather any evidence to support your modifications and show the court that your revisions meet your children’s best interest. Examples include revised school schedules, statements from doctors or paperwork from your new job.
  3. File the paperwork needed to make the changes with the court and pay any fees required. You can use an attorney if you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself.
  4. Deliver copies of the paperwork to the other parent to notify him or her about what’s happening.
  5. Appear at the hearing and answer questions from the judge concerning your modifications and whether they reflect your children’s best interests.
  6. Accept the judge’s decision regarding the changes to the parenting plan. Either the judge will agree and approve the changes or the current parenting plan will continue as is.

At any time during the process, you can consult with a family law professional in your state to help you through the steps in modifying the plan and filing a petition with the family court.

Ultimately, the court is interested in hearing what you have to say regarding the health and well-being of your children. As a parent, you are considered the expert in what is working for them and what is not with regards to the current parenting plan. As long as you can clearly show that there needs to be changes to the parenting plan, you will usually have the full support of the court.

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