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I Want to Modify My Parenting Plan. What Do I Need to Know?

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When a parenting plan is drawn up, the parents aim to handle as many possible situations and needs as they can. 

Visitation, child support, schooling, religion, medical decisions, vacations, and extracurricular activities all are addressed in an effort to minimize conflicts between parties and provide a stable, secure environment for the children.

However, parenting plans cannot possibly address all the needs of a child or an adult, and they can’t always predict things such as job changes, loss of salary, or extraordinary medical needs.

If you think you may need or want to change your parenting plan, for whatever reason, here are 4 things you need to know first:

If You & Your Ex Agree, You Still Need to Get Court Approval

In an ideal world, you and your ex would discuss whatever changes you want to make to your parenting plan, come to an agreement, and that’s that.

However, even if you agree on what’s going to change in your parenting plan, the changes need to be approved by the court. Sometimes, that approval requires another court appearance.

For the most part, courts approve changes to parenting plans if both parties agree, trusting that the parents are keeping their children’s best interests in mind when making adjustments. 

When reviewing your documents, though, the judge may see something in your paperwork that’s against statute or otherwise doesn’t seem advisable. In these cases, the judge may ask your more questions about your changes and may even deny your requested modification.

These denials are rare, but be prepared that any changes you make are still subject to court approval.

You May Have to Go to Mediation First

Depending on what you and your ex disagree on, and the terms of your original parenting plan, you may have to go into mediation before you can get your case settled.

If you’re looking to change items such as child custody or schooling for your children, for example, you may have to work with a mediator to work out your differences before any court date is set. 

For other items where there are very clear statutes, such as child support, your case may go straight in front of the judge.

Just know that, if you are required to go into mediation, either based on the terms of your original parenting plan or because a judge orders it, this extra step can slow down the resolution of your case.

Be Willing to Compromise

As with your initial parenting plan development, making any modifications to your parenting plan is likely to require some measure of compromise.

Don’t go into negotiations and discussions with your ex bound and determined to get only what you want or you’ll find yourself with a much more difficult situation. You may feel that your request is perfectly reasonable, but your ex may not see things the same way, especially if it requires a change to their status quo.

When first broaching the topic of changing your parenting plan with your ex, ask for exactly what you want. But be prepared to shave off little bits here and there, maybe trading an extra summer week in exchange for allowing you to move farther away for that new job, for example, in order to get the big thing you want.

It May Be Difficult

Anticipating conflicts with and resistance from your ex is normal, but also be prepared for resistance from the courts.

For example, if your planned change to the parenting plan requires you moving out of state and taking the kids with you, the courts may push back to ensure that the change is really going to benefit your kids.

This pushback may require you to submit more evidence, get testimony from witnesses, spend money on experts, and more. And, after all that, your request still may be denied.

Be prepared that, no matter how great you think a change may be for your kids, courts don’t like upsetting things as they are very often.

Lawyer for Modifications in Washington, D.C.

While getting your parenting plan modified may not be easy, it can be a lot less frustrating and scary with an experienced attorney on your side. At Lopez Law Firm, we’ve helped countless parents modify their parenting plans to reflect location changes, new educational needs, changes in child support, and more. Schedule your consultation today!

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