Children grow up fast. As they do, their needs, desires, and interests change. As a result, the parenting plan that you drafted when your child was younger may not fit their lifestyle during their teenage years. Parenting plans can be modified as circumstances change, however, it’s not so easy if the other parent doesn’t agree.
In order for a Court to grant the requested modification, you must have compelling evidence that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the date the parenting plan was originally entered. These circumstances must also be unanticipated.
If the other parent will not adapt to the parenting plan, you must receive an order from the Court. The Court will not draft the changes to the plan without holding a hearing and allowing both parents to present their respective views.
In determining whether to reshape a parenting plan, the Court must make decisions it believes are in the “best interest of the child.” Generally, you can argue the following:
- The change will help promote the child’s emotional and physical safety;
- A modification will promote stability;
- You want to adopt the parenting plan to promote the child’s connection to other family members such as half-siblings;
- Your child wants the change; and,
- There were prior violations of the parenting plan agreement.
After you file your petition of modification, you can attempt mediation. This is a requirement for many judges. If you still cannot come to an agreement, then it will be time to line up your witnesses. The list can include the following: School teachers;
- Relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles;
- Doctors or nurses (who can testify if the other parent has abused the child);
- Therapists or counselors who have treated your child; and,
- Anyone with helpful information about your case.
An attorney can help evaluate your situation and advise you as to whether your motion is likely to be denied or granted. If the attorney believes you have a good chance at being successful in your motion, they can help you locate evidence and witnesses for support and present this information to the court.
There is always the chance that separated parents agree to modify the parenting plan to fit their child’s new needs. In this case, you can download the necessary forms and ensure that they are executed properly. Additionally, an attorney can review to ensure that all requirements are complied with.
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About the Author
Tamara Grossman is an attorney with eight years of courtroom experience in family law and other legal matters. Ms. Grossman has been a partner in a multistate litigation law firm and, most recently, was an attorney at a Boca Raton family law firm.