At the conclusion of a custody case, each parent receives a copy of the custody and visitation agreement, which is often referred to as a parenting plan. This plan contains important details about how much time a child spends with each parent, how decisions are to be made about the child's care, and which parent is responsible for each aspect of the child's life. For example, a parenting plan may outline who is responsible for taking a child to sports practice, helping a child with homework, or transporting a child to other activities. In some cases, it is necessary to modify the parenting plan due to a change that affects one or both parents. If any of these changes occur in your life, ask a child custody attorney from a firm like New Direction Family Law if a plan modification is warranted.
The parenting agreement spells out terms such as what time a parent can pick up the children for visitation or where the children will spend their summer vacation. If one of the parents involved in the agreement decides to relocate, it may be necessary to modify these details. For example, if the parents currently live in Texas and one of them decides to move to New York, the parenting plan must be modified to account for changes in the visitation schedule. The modified plan should specify who is responsible for paying for paying for the children to travel from Texas to New York, and it should also document any special travel arrangements that must be made to ensure each child's safety. Documenting these changes in the parenting plan eliminates confusion and ensures that all parties understand their legal obligations.
2. Relationship Changes
In many cases, one of the parents involved in a parenting plan gets married or moves in with an intimate partner. It is not always necessary to modify the parenting plan when this happens, but you may want to ask for modification if you feel that the relationship could have a negative impact on your child. For example, if the new spouse has been convicted of driving under the influence, you may want to modify the custody agreement to state that he or she is not allowed to transport your children anywhere. Another reason to modify the custody agreement under these circumstances is if the new spouse has tried to interfere with the relationship between you and your children.
3. Safety Issues
Keeping children safe is one of the most important considerations in any child custody case. You may need to request a modification of the parenting plan if you believe your child's safety is at risk due to the behavior of the other parent. Safety concerns include physical and emotional abuse, lack of proper nutrition, and parental neglect. If the other parent uses illicit drugs or abuses alcohol while your child is present, this is another potential safety concern. You may need to have your child custody visitation attorney file a petition to modify the parenting agreement to limit the amount of time your child spends in an unsafe environment. Under some circumstances, you may be able to modify the parenting plan so that the other parent cannot spend time with the child without supervision.
4. Schedule Changes
Scheduling changes can affect your current custody agreement, especially if your child joins an after-school club or takes up a new sport. You may need to modify your parenting plan so that it specifies which parent is responsible for transporting the child to these activities. Schedule changes can also affect your child's availability, making it necessary to change your existing visitation schedule.
It is important to follow your parenting plan exactly as it is written, as you may be held in contempt of court if you do not. If your circumstances change, however, you may be able to have the plan modified. Contact your child custody attorney as soon as you become aware of any such change.