Written by Anthony Piccirilli
During divorce proceedings, the court makes a custody agreement to create the best living situation for the children. They base their decision on several factors, including the parents’ incomes, housing, and more, so that the children can get the best possible standard of living.
However, things like job status, living location, or personal relationships change over time. And each change affects how well a parent can follow the court order. Either way, if you feel that either you or your spouse have experienced changes that could harm your children, it might be time to reconsider your parenting plan.
When is it a Good Idea to Change Parenting Plans?
Custody plans are designed with children’s best interests in mind, allowing them to grow up in as “normal” of circumstances as possible while they might be growing up in separate households.
When a parent’s circumstances change, the court might allow changes to the parenting plan, depending on the type of changes that the court is witnessing. They might increase one parent’s custody, grant sole custody, or change visitation hours.
Best Interest of the Children
While the parenting agreement has the living in two separate houses, there still needs to be balance regarding certain aspects of their lives. This could include schools, familial relationships, and more. Basically, both parents need to give the children the best possible quality of life.
Can the Children’s Preference Affect Parenting Plans?
The court can take the children’s preferences into consideration when creating a new order. This will depend on the age and maturity of the children involved.
A serious injury to a custodial parent can hinder their ability to properly care for their children. If this happens, the court would be willing to either permanently or temporarily modify who has custody.
Relocation for Work
If one parent gets a new job in another city or is transferred, they might not be able to keep the children in the same school or within a reasonable distance of the other parent. The court might modify the agreement to give one parent sole custody during the school year while the other parent gets the children during holidays and breaks. Or the court might just grant full custody to the other parent and grant visitation hours to the one moving.
Change in Lifestyle
This could include one parent returning to school to complete their education, changing work hours, earning higher or lower wages, finding a new significant other, and more. These changes could create both an advantage and a disadvantage for one of the parents, depending on whether the changes benefit or detriment the life of the children.
Situations like domestic violence between partners, child abuse, or living situation disasters might force the court to create a new custody agreement very quickly.
And if there is abuse, you can seek a Protection From Abuse order to have the children removed immediately. Non-custodial parents can also push to keep the kids if they can prove that both parents are unfit under these circumstances.
How to Modify the Parenting Plan
The steps to modify a parenting plan depend on your situation. Remember, no matter how strong your case is, you will want to have a lawyer with you to navigate the intricacies of the court.
Changing through Mutual Agreement
If you and your children’s other parent can agree on a change in custody, mutually updating your arrangement is the easiest and least stressful way for the children.
You will need to decide how to handle common sources of scheduling conflicts, like holidays and birthdays. You will also need to show how you will cope with any other unexpected issues that may arise. After you have created an agreeable schedule, you and your co-parent must both sign the document and submit it to the same court that ordered your original custody arrangement.
Petitioning the Court to Modify Your Agreement
If you and your children’s other parent can’t arrive at a mutually agreed-upon change to your custody arrangement, you can petition the court for a modification. You will need to fill out the proper form from the same court where your original agreement was made and attach a copy of the changes you wish to make.
You will also need to include an attachment with your petition that explains why you are proposing changes and why they are in your children’s best interests. Generally, the law requires substantial changes to alter custody, so be as specific as possible.
Call Us for Help to Change Your Child Custody Plan Today
If you are considering changing your parenting plan, you will need an experienced custody lawyer to help you. The lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC have represented many people like you and are ready to take your case and do what is best for you and your children.