Should You Ever Revisit Your Parenting Plan?

Any co-parent knows how important a parenting plan is. Because it's so important and takes a lot of time and consideration to draft, you may be hesitant to make changes.

But don't let modifications intimidate you. You'll likely need to update your parenting plan multiple times. Here, six family law experts weigh in on times when modifying a plan is most common.

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When you agree with the other parent

Remember that you are part of a parenting team. Reaching an agreement with your spouse is by far the easiest way to make changes.

John C. Holle of Conscious Family Law & Mediation LLC in 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."

When you foresee your child's needs changing

When you make decisions that only affect you, you can do it on the fly. But when you make decisions that affect your child and ex-spouse, planning becomes essential.

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 a legal document isn't instantaneous. By taking a forward-looking approach, you give the process time to finalize before there's a problem.

When a parent gets married

You and you ex have moved on from your marriage. But that doesn't mean neither of you will marry again.

Larry Hance of Dallas' 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."

Hance continues: "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 is true whether you or your ex is the one remarrying, of course.

When a parent gets a new work schedule

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 your work life conflicts with your parenting schedule.

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

Every two years — and as otherwise necessary

As your children grow up, their needs change. That's one reason recommended schedules depend on the age of the child.

You might set a cycle for updating your parenting plan, then allow for changes in between as necessary.

Stacey James Wheeler of suggests: "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."

When a lawyer or court says you need a new plan

Working out a co-parenting plan with an ex is not always easy. Adapting a preexisting one can be equally difficult. Don't forget the main intent should be to provide the best possible situation for your child.

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

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."

If you're not sure whether you need a new plan, talk to a lawyer. And if you do feel sure but can't convince the other parent, you can turn to a court to make a final decision. Both a lawyer and a court will be sure to keep your child's needs at the forefront.

The easiest way to amend a parenting plan

Amending a parenting plan can feel overwhelming. You have to use airtight legal language and don't want to mess up any of the provisions you'll keep.

Use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app gives you options for each step of creating or amending a plan.

The result will be a professional-quality document that secures your child's future in the face of change.

The easiest and most reliable way to update a parenting plan is with Custody X Change.

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