According to the CDC/NCHS National Vital Statistics System, there were 746,971 divorces in 45 of the 50 states in 2019. For many of these couples, a divorce will ultimately improve their lives. However, it is almost always a highly emotional process. Parents who are divorcing face particular challenges as they will also have to agree to all the details of a child custody parenting plan.
While the child custody agreement may work at the time of a divorce, as circumstances change, parents may need to alter the original parenting plan. At Equal Justice Law Group, Inc., we have worked hard for over 20 years to secure the results our clients need in and around Sacramento, California, in matters of family law, estate planning, and bankruptcy.
Can Parenting Plans Be Modified?
It is possible to modify a parenting plan; however, it requires a significant amount of time and paperwork. Typically, it is best to work with a mediator or attorney to make sure all forms are properly filled out and all processes are followed correctly.
Children need consistency and structure. Because of this, only some circumstances can lead to a change of a court-ordered parenting plan.
Qualify for Modification?
To qualify for a modification, above all else, it must be shown that a new plan will be in the best interest of the child. If there has been a significant change in circumstance, that may also result in a new parenting plan.
Significant Changes in Circumstances
Major life changes can and will impact a child’s development. To minimize negative impacts on the child’s life, only significant changes in circumstances can lead to a new parenting plan.
Examples of these types of changes include:
Changes in the child’s preference; as they grow, or if a parent marries a new partner, the child’s preference may change
Changes in the work schedule of the non-custodial parent
The child may soon be placed on a remedial educational track
One parent acts irresponsibly or negligently
One parent intentionally violates a custody or visitation order
Allegations of domestic violence or child abuse
While these are some of the more common reasons, there are other events that may be considered a significant change in circumstances. Consult a family law attorney to learn more about whether your circumstances qualify.
Process for Making a Modification
Depending on whether the parents agree or disagree on a new parenting plan, there are different processes for obtaining a parenting plan modification. The process may also vary depending on the jurisdiction where you live.
When Parents Agree
It is possible for parents to change their court order through an agreement. For many families, this is necessary about every three years. There are at least two forms to fill out and sign (which will depend on the jurisdiction). Then, the forms must be reviewed (which is usually done by a family law attorney) and several copies should be made.
After all the forms have been correctly filled out, a judge must sign the two copies of the new stipulation form, which then must be filed with the court clerk.
When Parents Disagree
If the parents cannot agree on a new custody plan, then the process is more complicated. Working with a family law attorney may make the process more efficient.
One of the parents must file papers that ask for the parenting plan modification of the current child custody and visitation order. Then, there will most likely be a meeting with both parents, their family law attorneys, and a mediator. Lastly, there will be a court hearing.
Getting the Experienced
Legal Guidance You Need
Obtaining a parenting plan modification involves a significant amount of time, negotiation, and paperwork. Our experienced team at Equal Justice Law Group, Inc. can help you with this process. We have worked with more than 7,000 clients in Sacramento, Jackson, El Dorado Hills, and Placerville, California. Our goal is to be the best legal representation for you in matters of family law, estate planning, and bankruptcy law. Contact us today for your free consultation.