Can I Modify an Existing Parenting Plan?

In News by YKF Law

If you have an existing parenting plan, you understand everything that goes with it, including how you need to consider your co-parent, the best interest of your children, and how to negotiate your time. Depending on your relationship with your co-parent, it may have been easy to settle on a parenting plan or difficult to agree on a schedule, how to split holidays, etc.

Regardless of how well you and your co-parent agreed to your existing parenting plan, you may want to modify your custody arrangements by requesting a change in schedules, custody arrangements, vacations, and legal matters. Life happens, and sometimes we need to alter our plans and arrangements.

If you have an existing parenting plan, you may wonder if you can modify it. Keep reading to learn if you can modify an existing parenting plan, to what extent, and how to go about the legal process.

Can an Existing Parenting Plan be Modified?

A parenting plan is crucial to a successful co-parenting relationship because it organizes the time your children spend with you and your co-parent. Already have an established parenting plan? If so, you already have the details planned for every holiday, school vacation, and more with your co-parent. You also know exactly what went into establishing a parenting plan and how to negotiate with your co-parent.

Parenting plans should include the following: physical custody schedules, legal custody, how exchanges will work, communication between both co-parents, holidays and summer vacations, school, and extracurriculars. These details are crucial when outlining how you and your co-parent will raise your children post-divorce.

Though you already have a parenting plan established, sometimes things can’t always go according to plan. Perhaps you have a new job that requires a new schedule, or a business trip that falls on a school break, or you’d like to get more time with your children than what is outlined in the parenting plan. Whatever the case, parents often wonder if an existing parenting plan can be modified. The answer is yes they can, within reason.

Why Modify an Existing Parenting Plan?

Parents request to modify their existing parenting plan for many reasons, mostly because there has been a detailed change that affects custody and their current parenting plan. Examples of why parents may request to modify their existing parenting plan include:

  • A parent is relocating for work, a sick family member, a friend, etc.
  • Newly developed habits that affect their ability to take care of the children (substance abuse, medical diagnosis, etc.)
  • Anything that negatively impacts the child
  • Any endangerment to the child (physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, etc.)
  • One parent tries to alienate the other through the children

Essentially, a parent with a career change that involves new hours or relocation, or if the child is endangered by anything, or, rarely, a parent who wants to relinquish custody of the children, are just some of the many reasons why parents request to modify their existing parenting plan.

How to Modify an Existing Parenting Plan

Modifying a parenting plan involves many steps made easier if you hire a family law attorney to help with the parenting plan modification. Below is the general process for modifying an existing parenting plan:

  • Filing a motion
  • Service of Summons
  • Mediation or pre-trial
  • Entry of Judgement

Though the above is a general process for a modification action, steps will be added if both parents agree or disagree. For example, if both parties agree to change the existing parenting plan, they must file a stipulation for modification. A judge may approve the request without a hearing or with a hearing.

When the parents disagree on modifying a parenting plan, one parent will submit evidence of why they don’t want to settle at a contested hearing. In this case, a judge will schedule mediation or a pre-trial.

The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC Can Help With Any Modification Action

If you or your ex need to modify an existing parenting plan, contact an experienced family law attorney to help. A dedicated divorce attorney can help guide you through the entire legal process from start to finish, offering advice about modifications and your unique scenario.

If you need help with a divorce or establishing a parenting plan or modifying an existing parenting plan, or child custody, the Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through the entire process. Our office is in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In addition to our physical location, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we can meet in person or via Zoom.