The primary purpose of a parenting plan is to address who will have legal and physical custody of a child. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make decisions regarding your child. There can be sole legal custody or joint legal custody and this can be included in the parenting plan. Additionally, the plan should address, in cases where joint custody is being established, how the parents are going to share or divide the decision making duties relating to the child.
Physical custody refers to where the child will reside. Again, there can be sole physical custody or joint physical custody. The parenting plan can also include a visitation schedule to show when the child will be with either parent. If a parent wants to modify a parenting plan, it is usually because he or she is looking to alter the custody agreement relating to the child.
How do I modify custody as laid out in the parenting plan?
For whatever reason, you or the child’s other parent or guardian may wish to revisit the parenting plan and modify child custody and visitation. In some instances, the parents prefer to do so informally. Both parents may agree on an alternate custody agreement and are fine not petition the court to modify the existing custody order.
It is always nice to see successful co-parenting and parents being able to reach agreements on their own about such issues. The informal arrangement can be a great short-term solution, but the informal nature of this arrangement is a big downside.
If only an informal modification to a custody plan has been made by mutual agreement of the parents, one parent may at some time unilaterally wish to enforce the originally established custody schedule. If this were to happen, the other parent would have no legal standing to prevent this from happening. This is why it is best to seek a formal child custody modification through the court system. Once a judge has agreed to a new custody arrangement, the order will be legally binding on all parties.
It is unlikely, however, that a judge will grant a request for modification of child custody without proof that you or the other parent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances. The substantial change in circumstances must have had a profound impact on the efficacy of the originally established custody arrangement and that it would be in the best interest of the child to modify the custody arrangement. A substantial change in circumstances may mean that one parent got a new job or lost an existing job. One of the parents may have gotten remarried. There may be criminal conduct that now needs to be considered.
Additionally, a judge may hear a request to alter custody arrangements if the child who is subject to the custody plan is 12 years of age or older and wants to spend more time with one parent.
New York Child Custody Attorneys
If you are looking to modify an existing child custody arrangement, the trusted family law attorneys at CDH Law are here to help. We can discuss your options with you and work on a plan to present to the court for approval. Contact us today.