For many parents, life on the other side of a divorce is very different from what they anticipated. This is especially true for many parents who have to create a parenting plan to address how they work together to raise a child from the relationship.
It is fairly common for a parenting plan or custody arrangement to be a burden on one or both parents, especially if a parent experiences a significant change in circumstances. What once seemed like a reasonable agreement may turn untenable quite unexpectedly, and modifying the custody arrangement or other aspect of a parenting plan may present a helpful solution.
No matter what aspect of a parenting plan you wish to modify, it is important to make sure you have proper legal counsel. Modifications are certainly possible, but are not always simple to obtain. For you to have any hope of successfully modifying a parenting plan or other aspect of raising your child with their other parent, you must properly follow the appropriate guidelines and deadlines.
Modifying privileges or custody
Maybe you agreed to a certain breakdown of parenting privileges and duties, but now that you're several months or years into living with the arrangement, you feel it either places an undue burden on you, or perhaps believe that the division of privileges and parenting time is unfair to you.
One of the most important things you can do if you hope to modify a parenting plan or custody arrangement is hold up your end of the existing arrangement as much as you possibly can. Courts generally do not take kindly to parents who appear like they are not investing all they can in their child's upbringing.
You can petition a court for a modification by filing the proper documents, but depending on the specifics of your existing agreement, you may have to wait for a certain amount of time, such two or three years since the date the first agreement took effect.
Modifying child support obligations
It is possible to modify child support obligations, but it is important to understand that this is a completely separate process than modifying another parenting agreement. In very basic terms, your agreement about custody or parenting privileges exists between you and the child's other parent, whereas child support is an obligation directly to the child.
Many parents foolishly believe that the two are dependent, and that by withholding one, they can gain influence over the other. This is a dangerous game to play, and often backfires on those who try it. Child support is a right of the child, not of the parent who receives the payment on behalf of the child.
If you find that you cannot pay your child support obligations, you should attempt to modify them through the proper channels. However, missed or withheld payments are not likely to make you look very good in the eyes of a court tasked with granting or denying you a child support modification.
No matter what your parenting agreement needs are, be sure that you have sufficient legal guidance to keep your rights and privileges protected as you walk through this difficult season.