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Our current parenting plan isn’t working. Can we change it?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Child Custody |

Parents may spend weeks negotiating with one another or attend multiple hearings in court while presenting their side of the situation to create an effective parenting plan. Assessing a family’s circumstances and the unique needs of the children in the household will ultimately determine what terms parents should include in a parenting plan.

Ideally, parents will share custody without any conflict by following the terms outlined in their parenting plan. Unfortunately, the division of parenting time, the allocation of decision-making authority and other terms included in parenting plans can become outdated. Changes in family circumstances may lead to conflict between the parents as certain terms of the plan become unmanageable.

When the family realizes that the parenting plan no longer meets their needs and they need to make significant adjustments, they may wonder if changing the documents would be possible. Formal modifications are how families adjust their parenting plans in California.

When is a modification possible?

Ideally, the parents or judge putting together a parenting plan will think about not just the immediate needs of the children but what the family will require over the next few years. Some plans include provisions for future changes to family circumstances.

Still, situations can change very rapidly in ways that people don’t anticipate. Therefore, the California family courts don’t impose time restrictions on modifications the way that some other states do. At any point when a parent believes that a parenting plan no longer works for their family, they can potentially file a request for a modification hearing.

Provided that the judge reviewing their paperwork agrees with the claim that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that alters what would be best for the children, a hearing may be possible. Sometimes, parents can cooperate with one another for quick uncontested modifications. Other times, they end up litigating.

In the case of litigation, a judge will potentially update a parenting plan if they agree that the current arrangements are not working for the children or the family. The more significant the changes that affect someone’s parenting plan, the more important it becomes to update the official documents approved by the family courts, even if the alterations are mutually agreed upon, as the standing order will remain enforceable until it is formally changed.

In either event, pursuing a custody modification with the assistance of an experienced legal professional can benefit those who are trying to share responsibility for their children if a family’s needs have significantly changed since an original order was made enforceable.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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