Modifying Your Parenting Plan When Circumstances Change

Modifying Your Parenting Plan When Circumstances ChangeWhen Tennessee couples with children divorce, they create (sometimes on their own, sometimes with lawyers, sometimes by ruling from a judge) a parenting plan. The basic format of the plan is supplied by the TN courts, and must be used for the creation of a new plan, or to modify an existing one. We point out that the courts supply this piece of documentation because any time you want to change an Order, you have to go through the courts to do it. This is not to say that a “one-off” decision cannot be made by the parents – like allowing your child to spend an extra weekend at the other parent’s home as a special treat – but anything permanent has to go through the court system, or you (and/or your spouse) will be in violation of the Order.

In order to request a modification, you must prove that there has been a “material change in your circumstances.” For example: let us say you have been out of work, and now you are offered a new job with different hours. If these new hours affect when you see your children, and you would like to change the custody part of your agreement, then you need to go back to court to make that modification. The same rule for modification applies if:

  • One parent wishes to move out of state
  • One parent loses his or her job
  • One parent’s living circumstances or conditions have changed
  • One parent has failed to adhere to the current parenting plan
  • Your child’s needs have changed significantly
  • Other factors, deemed significant by the judge, come into play

Negotiating changes

While you still need an Order from a judge to legally modify your parenting plan, you can make the whole process easier on everyone if you consider mediation first. Our firm founder, Adrian Altshuler, is a Certified Rule 31 mediator, and has helped clients reach agreements that suit them and their former spouses, while keeping their children’s best interests in the forefront. After all, the judge will be most concerned with what is best for your child. By attempting mediation first, a judge will see that your goals and your former’s spouses goals are both aligned with your child’s needs. Of course, if one of you is requesting a change that the other is perfectly fine with, and that change will not alter your child’s wellbeing, then we may be able to simply petition the court for the modification without any other steps at all. It all depends on what your circumstances are.

If you and your spouse need to modify any element of your existing parenting plan, you want an experienced attorney on your side to help you through the process. The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates can help you. To speak with one of our divorce attorneys in Franklin, Columbia or Brentwood, please call 615-977-9370 or fill out our contact form.