Parenting plans: Are they etched in stone?

At the end of a divorce case in New Jersey, the judge will take all evidence and recommendations of both parties to either finalize or reject a parenting plan. Because developing a parenting plan that works for everyone is difficult, it may seem like they are unchangeable and thus etched in stone. The fact is that they are not. Courts understand that life changes, and so may the parenting plan. However, you simply can’t change things out of nowhere. There are a few things to keep in mind before changing the parenting plan.

What warrants a parenting plan modification?

Simply said, the courts will not accept just anything as a reason to change your parenting plan. Because child custody is such a serious and difficult thing to agree on, the courts will need to receive a strong reason for your requests. Some of the most common reasons that courts would hear and accept modifications include:

  • The child is older or not a minor
  • A parent is moving
  • Sudden job loss
  • One parent is endangering the child

Can you change things outside of court?

Yes, many states across the nation allow parents to modify their past parental plans to meet new changes in their lives. However, this involves proper communication between both parents and with the focus being on what’s in the best interest of the child. However, if communication breaks down, you should head to court in order to obtain legal and enforceable modifications to your parenting plan.

Although you can certainly make modifications on your own, it is still recommended to have an attorney experienced in family law by your side. This may help you avoid common mistakes and demonstrate the seriousness of the situation to your ex-spouse.