You and your spouse will create a parenting plan during the divorce process. Look at it as a contract between you and your spouse identifying how you will raise your children as co-parents. For example, it can include pick-up and drop-off times and locations, holiday schedules, plans for dealing with disagreements, how medical bills will be paid, and much more. One of the mistakes people make when developing is that they don’t look long-term. If you and your spouse decide to dissolve your marriage when you have a two-year-old child, you may have the perfect plan that allows you to raise the child equally but you should also ask yourself whether that same plan works as the child ages and begins school.
Even those who did build a plan that will last may still encounter substantial changes in their lives. They could suffer a serious injury that prevents them from working, impacting their ability to pay child support. A parent may develop a substance abuse issue that becomes an obvious threat to the child. Although the possible scenarios are somewhat endless, the important element to remember is that parenting plans can be changed.
How to Alter Your Parenting Plan
Before you learn how to alter your parenting plan, you must know that there needs to be a substantial change in circumstances preceding your modification. Imagine that your spouse moves three hours away, and you devise a plan to get the child every other weekend. After the divorce is finalized, you regret not having more time with your child. This would likely not constitute a substantial change in circumstances, but what happens if you sell your house, get a new job, and relocate to the same town your child moved to? This is more of a valid reason to adjust your plan.
After reading that, we understand that you may have several questions about whether your specific change in circumstances warrants a parenting plan modification. Because of how many different ways someone’s life could change, you will have to attend an adequate cause hearing—which can also be referred to as a threshold hearing. Additionally, the court will not grant your request to change the parenting plan only after the court determines that there is adequate cause. If you request the modification, the burden will be on you (and your attorney) to show why the court should modify the original parenting plan.
As with any issue involving a child, the court will evaluate whether your requested modification is in the child’s best interest. Although the parents may agree or be in agreement about the proposed changes, the court still wants to see how the change will impact their life.
- Will the child be provided for?
- What will happen to the relationships they formed with siblings, parents, and extended family?
- Will the child be changing schools? If so, are they being forced to leave their friends and extracurricular activities?
- Does the other parent have a history of violence or substance abuse?
Create Your Parenting Plan with ZafiroLaw
Your parenting plan will include custody, visitation, parental responsibilities, and restrictions. Each one is designed to protect you and your child per your unique circumstances. If you have additional questions about how to make one, change one, or are preparing to get divorced, contact our office to schedule your consultation.