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Under What Circumstances are Parenting Plans Modifiable?

How can a parenting plan be modified? A parenting plan can be modified by either an agreement of the parties … let’s just say that you’re able to agree with your ex that certain provisions of a parenting plan aren’t working for you and it should be changed. You can enter into a stipulation modifying your parenting plan. You should both sign off on it, preferably in front of a notary. Then you would submit it to the court along with the proposed order. The court likely would adopt your agreement and modify your parenting plan. That’s the preferred method to go.

Unfortunately, there are other situations where parties can’t agree. They want to modify their parenting plan and the other party doesn’t agree to that. A lot of parenting plans to have a mediation provision contained in them. In other words, you have to mediate before you can file a motion to modify your parenting plan with the court. You would want to look at your parenting plan carefully to see if that mediation provision is in there. If it is, you need to comply with it. The reality of it is that you’d likely be ordered to mediate anyway because Colorado is a big fan of mediation, and would like for you to mediate your dispute before taking up the court’s time to hear it.

If you’re unable to agree and mediation hasn’t been effective or isn’t required, you have to file a motion to modify your parenting plan, You can only file a motion to modify a parenting plan once every two years. You need to be very thoughtful about what you’re attempting to accomplish here, and make sure that what you’re asking the court to do is tailored to your situation and covers everything that you want to accomplish.

You would file your motion to modify your parenting plan, and then you need to tell the court and the other party exactly what it is you want to change. Maybe the pickup and drop off times are not working. Perhaps the exchange location isn’t working. Perhaps one party has had a change in their work schedule and the times that they would have parenting time aren’t effective for them.

You have to tell the court why you want to modify your parenting plan and what is in the best interests of the children, and why you’re proposed modification is in the best interests of the children. Keep in mind that child support often follows a modification of a parenting plan if it involves changing the number of overnights that a parent has with the children. A lot of parents are unhappy about paying child support in the amount that they’re paying. One way to change the amount of child support is to change the number of overnights.

We see modifications motions filed that are really more about I don’t want to have to pay as much child support as I’m currently paying. Therefore I want to have the children more. Keep in mind, though, that your proposal has to be in the best interests of the children and it has to be feasible, and it has to be

For example, if you’re asking the court to change the weekend parenting time and you want to be able to return the children to school on Monday mornings, you better make sure that your schedule can accommodate that, and that you live near the children’s school, and that it’s feasible to propose that arrangement not only when you have good weather, but also here in Colorado when it snows. Can you get the kids to where they need to be at the time you’re asking the court to allow? Put a lot of thought into modifying your parenting plans if that’s the route you want to go, and whether it really is in the best interests of the children.

We are happy to help you come up with a modified plan and can talk you through some of the practical concerns that we see in a lot of these modifications. Also think about the children’s age and whether or not you’re dealing with older children that have activities that they are involved in. How are you going to be able to get the children to those activities during your parenting time? It’s not very nice to tell a child, “I’m sorry, you can’t go to a soccer tournament because I can’t get you there.” These are factors that the court would look at.

Really, modifications are based upon practical circumstances. Is what you’re asking the court to do practical under the circumstances and focused on the best interests of the children? If so, you’re likely to be successful. If it’s simply an effort to change the amount of child support you’re paying because you don’t like the amount you’re paying and you’re simply trying to jockey with the number of overnights, then you should give it some thought as to whether that’s really in the best interests of the children.

Matthews Family Lawyers