Parenting time schedules – usually determined as part of divorce proceedings – may conflict with a child or parent’s lifestyle as time passes. When an existing parenting plan is no longer working, one parent may seek a modification to their existing order. Changing a custody plan after it has been approved by the court is not as simple as it sounds. A parent will need to provide evidence that justifies their request for modification – and, most importantly, prove that the modification is in the best interest of the child.
Gathering evidence may take a few weeks or even months, but the more evidence collected, the more likely the courts are to approve the modification.
Establishing a Custody Journal
Parents can keep handwritten journals of their parenting time and record specific events they feel help justify their request for modification. The parent keeping the log will need to write the date and time and make specific notes regarding the events that took place. Some information that should be included within a custody journal includes:
- Any changes in grades (good or bad)
- Milestones and development points your child has or has not reached
- Late pick-ups and drop-offs
- Disagreements with your ex
- Discussions you have had with the other parent and things you would like to discuss
- Medical information
- Your child’s behavior – especially their behavior or mood after returning from their parent’s
- How your child is doing socially
- Missed or cancelled visits by you or the other parent and the reasons for them
- Any other issues that have conflicted with your existing custody plan
When you initially established your parenting plan, you may have agreed to limit your visitation due to living arrangements or your work schedule. If those situations have changed – and you now have more time to spend with your child – provide documentation proving this. For example, you did not have a separate room for the child; therefore, you could not do overnight visits. But now, you have purchased a larger home and have adequate space for overnight visits. In this case, you would need to provide the courts with proof of the home purchase contract.
Discussing Changes with the Other Parent
Sometimes the other parent will agree to modifications. Regardless, it is important to openly discuss the potential change with them and at least see if they will consent to the change. If the other parent will not consent, you can still petition the court for the modification. The judge will then decide if they will accept or deny the modification.
Get Assistance with a Modification By Hiring Romanowski Law Offices
If you wish to modify your child custody arrangement or parenting time, Romanowski Law Offices can help. We understand the complexities of this type of request and the emotions that may be involved. Contact our family attorneys online or call 732-603-8585 to schedule a consultation.