As your children grow, they will need time to bond with their friends, time to spend with family members and time for other things as their lifestyle evolves. As your children enter a new school year, you may have considered whether your current parenting time arrangement is suitable any more given the changes in your child’s life, your co-parent’s life and your own life.
The good news is that you can change your parenting plan with the consent of the other parent. Make sure you get all changes in writing and properly documented with the help of your family law attorney. If your co-parent will not consent to any changes but you feel–and can show the court–that they are necessary, reach out to your attorney immediately for help. In the meantime, consider the following signs that it may just be time to alter your parenting plan.
Your Plan is Interfering with Your Child’s Schedule
A working parenting plan will not continually disrupt your child’s routine. For example, if your child has a camping trip on a weekend, you should be able to forgo the exchange until the weekend afterward. If your child has a dance class near your home but far away from your co-parent’s home every week and your co-parent struggles to get your child to the class on time often, the child should be with you on the class day.
Your child needs to be able to do their homework, spend time with friends and take part in extracurricular activities without constant drama or timing issues. Although it is important for you and your co-parent to spend time with your child, it’s also crucial that your child is able to pursue their interests, spend time with children their age, and take part in activities that encourage their own development as a person.
Your Plan Doesn’t Reflect Your Child’s Ability to Adapt
If your child is having trouble adapting to the routine in the parenting plan as it is now, it may be time to make some changes. Ideally, work with your co-parent to craft a more lenient schedule if you see your child struggling with the time exchanges. Parenting time schedule issues for a child who is having a hard time adapting may impact the child’s mood, behavior and even their school performance.
Your Plan Doesn’t Account for a Recent Move
When you first made your plan, you and your co-parent may have lived nearby, so exchanges took ten minutes or even less. Now, one of you has moved, but this change in your circumstances is not reflected in the original plan. More distance between co-parent homes means more travel time for your child, and this can have a real impact on them and how well your schedule works overall.
Keep in mind that whether you are on good terms with your co-parent or not, your parenting time schedule needs to be consistent throughout the school year for your child’s well being. This will give your child stability and clear expectations for how their week will go. It’s also important that your child has equal access to both parents. This can require a lot of balance, so work as best as you can with your co-parent to make a schedule that reflects your situation, circumstances and the needs of your child.
You cannot make changes to the parenting plan without your co-parent’s (of the court’s) consent, even if you feel they are needed. Contact a family law attorney for assistance with modifying the plan so it reflects your life as it is today.