Should You Ever Revisit Your Parenting Plan?

Anyone that is currently in a co-parenting situation knows how important his or her parenting plan is. It takes a lot of consideration when originally drafting it, and it can take a good amount of effort to make sure you follow it to the best of your availability.

But, is there ever a time you should consider updating your parenting plan?

6 Family Law Experts Weigh In on Amending Your Parenting Plan

Believe it or not, there are some pretty valid times when you might want to take a look at your current parenting plan and see if it fits you, your ex, and your children’s current situations. Here are a few of them.

Don’t Forget the “Co” in Co-Parenting

As you and your children navigate through a new lifestyle, you might start to feel your current parenting plan or custody schedule isn’t as good as it could be. However, don’t assume you can go back and make changes whenever you feel fit.

John C. Holle of Conscious Family Law & Mediation LLC out of Denver, CO explains, “Modifying a parenting plan can be a difficult process if you aren’t working well with the other parent, so under those circumstances it can be very useful to wait until both sides have motivation to make changes, and then you can bargain with the other parent to get the changes you need.”

Divorced of not, you are part of a parenting team. You need to consider you ex spouse’s viewpoint as well as your children’s before trying to make changes.

Plan Ahead

When you only have one person to think about, making changes can happen on the fly. But, when you add other people to the equation, like an ex-spouse and children, you need to take their situations into consideration.

Nicholas Hite of The Hite Law Group in New Orleans, LA suggests, “When possible, it’s always better to plan ahead instead of trying to react to a change so it’s worth the effort to sit down and try to anticipate changes over the next summer or school year.”

Making changes to legal contracts, which is basically what your parenting plan is, takes time. By taking a forward looking approach as opposed to a reactionary one, you should in theory give yourself the time needed get things done before there’s a problem.

Divorce Isn’t Forever, for Some

You and you ex have moved on from one another. But, that doesn’t mean neither of you will never be married again.

Larry Hance of Dallas’s Hance Law Firm reminds us, “If you decide to get married again, you may find that original plan becomes much less effective and probably needs to be overhauled. This is especially true if your new spouse is bringing existing children into the marriage, and even more so if you plan to have a new baby together. Your original parenting plan reflects the goals that you and your ex agreed upon together, and may be based on a mutual understanding of your style of discipline, holiday traditions, where your extended families live and much more. Now that there is another ‘parent’ in the picture, everything may have to be reevaluated and renegotiated.”

This goes both ways of course, whether it is you or your ex that is remarrying.

The Airplane Rule

If you have ever flown on a commercial plane, you are probably aware of one of the main safety tips. If the oxygen masks drop, you should always put yours on first before helping others, including your children.

The same idea works when your employment and finances are involved. You need to make sure your work life and custody schedule work well together, even when you have changes with your employment.

David Crouse of David J. Crouse & Associates, PLLC of Spokane, WA explains, “If there have been changes in work schedules making the non-custodial parent more available (or the custodial parent less available), this may be a good time to seek a modification.”

A new job, promotion, or other major workplace change is absolutely a valid reason to revisit your parenting plan and custody schedule. You cannot take care of your children if you’re work life is conflicting with your schedule.

People Change and Kids are People Too

As your children grow up, their needs change. That’s one reason there are different types of recommended schedules that vary due to the age of the child.

Stacey James Wheeler of Stepdadding.com suggests regrading altering parenting plans, “Once every two years should be fine, unless there’s a problem with the kids, which might indicate a change in the plan is needed – Such as behavioral issues as they move into tween and teen years.”

We all know what it’s like to be a teenager. Your children’s adolescence is a great time to take a look at your custody schedule and see if it is a good fit for your family’s current situation.

Don’t Forget the Kids

Working out an acceptable co-parenting plan and schedule with an ex is not always an easy task. Adapting preexisting ones can be equally difficult. However, while attempting to do so, don’t forget the main intent of both should be to provide the best possible situation for your children.

Jonathan Good of Good Law LLC in Salt Lake City, UT explains, “The plan is not just an agreement between parents. It is also a plan to protect the children’s best interests.”

You aren’t alone though. Mr. Good clarifies that co-parenting couples do have help while trying to reengineer their current parent plan. He continues, “That’s why lawyers and courts can be helpful to ensure that the kids’ needs are not overlooked when changing a parenting plan.”

There are a lot of moving parts when you take your schedule, your ex-spouse’s schedule, and your children’s schedule and needs into the equation. Getting an expert set of eyes involved can make sure you come up with something the family court system will find acceptable.

In Summary

Life is not a static situation. People change jobs, sometimes they move or remarry, and children inevitably grow up. As you and your children’s lives change, you might have to make adjustments.

The family law experts quoted above give some excellent tips on how to revisit you parenting plan and custody schedule should your situation warrant it.

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