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Modifying parenting plans in hostile situations

Divorced parents know all too well the stress involved with juggling child custody and visitation schedules. When parents divorce, many outline a parenting plan agreement that sets forth specific schedules, expectations and other provisions regarding time spent with the child after the separation.

But what happens when something unexpected occurs and a parent wishes to modify the agreement?

Mutual agreement

Perhaps one parent needs to change his or her work schedule. Perhaps a parent has been offered a new job and wishes to move a significant distance away from the child. These and many other unexpected issues often arise as life progresses.

In many situations, both parents can amicably agree to modify an existing parenting plan to accommodate life changes. They can both settle on an arrangement and put it in writing. In fact, courts actually encourage divorced parties to come to an agreement together, on their own, and find a solution that is in the child’s best interest.

However, in other situations, getting parents to agree to a change in the parenting schedule isn’t so easy.

Pushback from the other parent

For a wide variety of reasons, there are many cases when the other parent refuses to agree to the modification. In these scenarios, the party seeking the modification must obtain a court order. That party must file a request with the court and include a new, proposed parenting plan.

Both parties will have an opportunity to attend a hearing and present their viewpoints, offer evidence and testimony, if necessary. The court will examine whether the request is in the “best interests” of the child, among other factors, when making a final determination.

The court will consider factors such as ties to grandparents or other family members, significant changes to living arrangements or disruptions to the child’s school schedule among many other factors when determining whether the modification meets the “best interest” standard.


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