When the court approves a parenting plan, you and your co-parent must abide by it. While you may make small compromises throughout your co-parenting journey, you cannot make significant modifications without the court’s permission. Even if you and your child’s other parent agree to make changes, one of you can backtrack later if the court does not provide explicit permission.
According to §61.13, Florida Statutes, a parent may request parenting plan modifications, so long as the parent requesting the change shows a “substantial, material and unanticipated change” in their circumstances and that the change is in their child’s best interests.
Reasons to modify the parenting plan
The most crucial facet of any parenting plan is to uphold the best interests of the children. In other words, if you want to modify the plan, it has to benefit the child too. You cannot change the plan unless you have a substantial change in your circumstance. For instance, a new job that requires you to move, a sudden health issue or another significant life change may be justification for a modification to your parenting plan.
Considerations of the court
The court has to consider whether the modification continues to encourage a parent-child relationship between both sets of parents. The child’s needs always outweigh the parents’ desires. The court will consider the needs of the children, including whether the children have to travel to abide by the parenting plan. Courts also consider the moral fitness, mental health and physical health of the parents.
Children old enough to express a preference may be able to speak on their opinions, but the court does not have to abide by that preference.
When you want to modify the parenting plan, keep in mind that the court will consider the same factors it did when establishing the original parenting plan. Any substantial differences in your circumstances could impact the outcome.