Your parenting plan or custody order determines most of the details about your relationship with your children and their other parent. Your parenting plan outlines your time sharing arrangements, from the rough division of parenting time to the typical weekly schedule. It also will discuss matters like whether you can travel out of the country on vacation and who has the authority to make certain decisions on behalf of the children.
Although you or the judge who created the plan may have tried to make it as adaptable as possible, you may find that your arrangements no longer work for your family. Even if you and the other parent can agree to some schedule changes, you may need to go back to court for a formal modification.
Why are modifications necessary?
While you may think making your own arrangements with the other parent is the easiest approach, it can leave you in a bad position. If they become angry at you, for example, they could accuse you of parental kidnapping based on the terms in your formal parenting plan. On the other hand, they might start denying you the additional time with your children that they once agreed you could have.
You only have protection from enforcement activity or the other parent changing their mind if you officially update your parenting plan. Beyond the possibility of challenges in your co-parenting relationship, there’s also the correlation between support requirements and parenting time. Changes to how much time you spend with the children can also influence how much either parent may pay in child support.
You can cooperate with the other parent
Although going back to court is typically necessary for your own protection, you don’t have to turn it into a fight with the other parent. If you already have updated arrangements between the two of you, then there shouldn’t be any issue with cooperatively filing a modification request.
You can also move forward with a contested modification. If you believe there are necessary changes but the other parent won’t agree, you can also pursue a contested modification where you litigate and a judge decides what would be best for the children.