How to Modify Your Parenting Plan
As part of any divorce decree, you should receive a parenting plan, called a “possession order” in Texas. This order will identify who has the children and when. Many parents begin their post-divorce life fully committed to following the possession order to the letter. Unfortunately, life also interrupts even their best-laid plans and suddenly the order no longer works for them. What do you do?
At Hargrave Law, PC, we have helped many mothers and fathers change their parenting plans. This is often easy to do, although disputes sometimes break out. Contact our Texas child custody lawyer to learn more.
Reach an Agreement with the Other Parent
You can modify your parenting plan/possession order by reaching an agreement with the other parent. Not all requests need to result in a knock-down contested court hearing. Instead, you can sit down with the other parent and discuss some sensible changes.
First, consider why you want a change. It could be that you have moved and the current plan is hard to follow due to lengthy travel times. Or your work schedule could have changed, which makes it impossible to see the children. When your children are older, their extracurricular activities could impede your ability to see them.
Second, try to be flexible. Your ex also has a busy life. Try to work around his or her schedule also.
Third, take advantage of mediation, which can help squabbling parents find common ground. Mediation is available in Texas for parents to resolve disputes themselves and can save you time and headaches.
Fourth, put the new plan in writing so both parents can refer to it later on. Verbal agreements are hard to remember.
Request a Modification from the Judge
There are two reasons to request that a judge modify the parenting plan:
- You cannot agree with the other parent
- You do agree but you would like the new possession order to be reflected in an official court document
By far, the first is the most common reason to file a petition to modify with a court. In that situation, it’s up to the judge to determine whether to modify the possession order and how.
Judges will listen to each side explain why they think the order should be changed. Judges will always have your child’s best interests at the forefront of whatever they do. You might also need witnesses to appear at a hearing to offer testimony. And you certainly need a child custody lawyer to represent you so that you put forth the best possible argument.
If the judge makes a change, he or she will incorporate it into a new court order. Both parents are bound by this order and could be punished for willful violations.
Point Out That Your Child Supports the Modification
This is a factor the judge will consider.
A judge will probably interview your child privately to determine his or her wishes. A judge is not bound to do what the child wants. Instead, the judge will probably consider the child’s reasons and his or her maturity.
If the child seems immature and wants a change because it is easier to be delinquent, then a judge will probably not support the change. However, when children get to be very old—16 or so—it becomes much harder for a judge to ignore what the child wants.
Contact Us to Review
At Hargrave Law, PC, we remain committed to strengthening the parent-child bond. To that end, we can help you seek a modification of your possession order, even when the other parent disagrees. Call us today to get started.