Modifying Your Parenting Plan
Learn how to modify your parenting plan as your co-parenting situation changes.
Even though divorce settlements and parenting plans are legally binding documents, they can be adjusted to accommodate changes in your co-parenting situation. When your parenting plan no longer supports your co-parenting situation as well as it used to, you can petition the court to make a modification. The process of requesting a modification is similar to the process of creating a parenting plan, and modifications are a helpful tool to ensure your parenting plan benefits everyone involved.
When should I consider a modification?
You can make modifications to your parenting plan for many reasons, but the root cause must be related to your children’s welfare. A petition may not be necessary when both parents agree to a slight change in the plan. For anything more complex or impactful, seeking a modification is the best course of action.
In general, you’ll need to prove that you, your children, or your co-parent have experienced significant, long-lasting changes that affect your children in a substantial way. Requirements for the significance of these changes differ depending on which state has jurisdiction over your parenting plan. Changes that might warrant a modification to your parenting plan include:
- Getting a new job
- Coping with illness
- Moving to a new state
- Your child’s needs changing as they grow up
- Accommodating for changes to school and extracurricular schedules
How do I modify my parenting plan?
The first step in modifying your parenting plan is to identify the reason why you want to modify the agreement. Once that reasoning is determined, you’ll need to communicate with your co-parent to determine if you both agree with the potential change. If you both agree, you can proceed to modify the plan and prepare to submit it to the court. If you disagree, you can either attempt to reach a compromise with a mediator or go to the courts for litigation.
Once you establish your agreement or disagreement with your co-parent, complete any relevant paperwork that is required by the Clerk of Courts in your county. Submitting this paperwork to the court will initiate the review and approval process for your modification. Additional requirements can be determined at the state level, so a family law attorney who is familiar with local and state processes can be a helpful resource in requesting a modification.
In addition to paperwork, you will need to submit supporting evidence that reinforces the need for the requested modification. You should include any documented interactions with your co-parent or children that align with your reasoning for the modification request. Common types of evidence include:
- Records of police or the court enforcing custody orders
- Documentation of a parent’s new work schedule
- Statements from teachers, caregivers, doctors, or other witnesses
- Medical, school, and other official records
For parents who use TalkingParents, collecting and providing evidence to the courts is easier with the Unalterable Records feature. Parents can get printed or PDF Records of calls, messages, calendar events, payments, and other actions. These Records are certified and admissible in courtrooms across the country, and they can even help you save time and money when working with a lawyer.
Whether you need to modify your parenting plan or just manage day-to-day custody matters, TalkingParents can be a valuable tool in making your co-parenting journey smoother. Learn more about how our features can help.