Over time, a family’s situation is likely to change — you or your former spouse may get a better job, lose their job, have a desire to relocate, any number of things can occur. If you are divorced and have a parenting plan in place, know that it is not set in stone. However, there are certain conditions that must be present to warrant modifying a parenting plan. The easiest way to go about modifying your parenting plan and custody schedule is to come to an agreement with the other parent.
In an ideal situation, both parties agree on a parenting agreement that best serves the interests of the children. However, couples who have been through a divorce often have trouble communicating effectively. Negotiating usually tends to be particularly contentious when there are issues relating to child custody or visitation. When a split or decision is contentious, it can benefit both parties to work with a custody mediator who can help parents create a modified parenting plan together.
If you and the other parent cannot mutually agree on a plan, you will need to file a child custody modification or petition to change the custody order with the court. The next step is for you and your child’s other parent to attend a hearing and present your cases to the court. A judge will then make the decision whether to accept the modified plan as set forth in your petition.
Generally, one must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the residence where the child is currently residing puts the child in imminent danger; one parent or the other is moving long distance; the current plan is not being adhered to; or one parent’s work schedule has changed considerably.
The court will hear your case and determine whether the modification is warranted. It is important to back up your petition with detailed documentation. The type of documentation you should bring would depend on the particular facts surrounding your case. Speak to an experienced child custody lawyer to help you determine what evidence should be presented. Some examples could include a custody journal with notes about problems and how and when they occurred; evidence that one parent’s work hours have changed considerably; evidence of relocation; or witness statements or documents that show the other parent is unfit.
As always, the court will try to make a determination that is in the best interests of the child. When setting up a parenting plan, or modifying an existing one, it is helpful to include provisions for how to modify or revise the plan in the future.
At Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C., we handle all types of family law matters with dedication and compassion. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at 610-565-3700 to speak to a West Chester child custody lawyer or contact us online.
We counsel clients regarding parenting plan modifications in Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Chester County, as well as in the communities of Lansdale, Norristown, West Chester, Malvern, King of Prussia, Wayne, Drexel Hill, Glenside, Phoenixville, Havertown, Media, Norristown, Upper Darby, Chester, Downingtown, Coatesville, Pottstown, Springfield, North Wales, Marcus Hook, Lansdowne, Ambler, and Collegeville.