If you are a parent of minor children who is headed towards divorce, you and your spouse are going to need to create a Parenting Plan. Your plan will detail legal custody and physical custody, and how you will both divide your time with the children. While this plan may be great for right now, you may need to change it in the future.
When it comes to divorce, rarely do things stay the same. Usually, things will change over time, and sometimes sooner than later. For example, one of you may remarry, or want to move to another state. Or, when your children are teenagers, they may want to change custody and move in with the non-custodial parent.
In other words, whenever there has been a “significant change in circumstances,” you may need to modify the existing Parenting Plan and in order to do this, you’ll have to go back to court to receive approval.
Reasons for a Modification
As time goes by, things inevitably change. The children’s needs may change, or the parents’ needs may change. Either way, the parents may realize that a modification is in order. You may need to modify your Parenting Plan under the following conditions:
- The custodial parent wants to relocate for a better economic opportunity or for remarriage.
- The child is older and wants to move in with the non-custodial parent.
- The child does not like Mom or Dad’s new partner and wants to move in with the other parent.
- The custodial parent becomes disabled or ill and can no longer care for the child.
- A younger child is now old enough for overnight visits with the non-custodial parent.
- One of the parent’s work schedules changes significantly and now involves overnight shifts or frequent travel.
If you are seeking a modification, you have a couple options: If you’re on good terms with your former spouse, you can create an agreement together and submit it to the Family Court judge for approval. Or, if you’re requesting substantial changes, you should have a hearing scheduled so the judge can examine your requests more carefully.
Please understand that judges are not in the practice of disrupting children’s routines unless doing so is beneficial for the child. If you wish to modify the Parenting Plan, you must submit your requests in writing to the court.