Whenever a couple with children divorce, a parenting plan helps facilitate the transition by outlining the terms of custody and visitation as well as other issues that affect their child. Once the parenting plan is accepted by the court, it is official and enforceable: violations of the parenting plan have serious consequences, including loss of custody.
If, however, one or both parents want to change the original parenting plan, the court allows for modifications in most circumstances. New York law provides parents with 3 options for parenting plan modifications: coming to an agreement on their own, using custody mediation, or litigating the proposed modification in family court.
The easiest way to modify a parenting plan is when both parents agree with the changes: the modified parenting plan is simply filed and (usually) accepted by the court.
When couples don’t agree on the proposed changes to the parenting plan, they can either choose to use a custody mediator or to take their case to family court.
If the parties choose to use custody mediation, a neutral third-party mediator will help the parents reach a mutually agreeable modified parenting plan. In addition to being faster and more cost-efficient than traditional litigation, custody mediation is non-adversarial; because the parties came to an agreement together, it is much more likely that the parents will remain on good terms and follow the parenting plan.
In cases where the parties can’t reach an agreement, the proposed modification is presented to the court for the judge or magistrate to decide.
For the court to approve a major modification to a parenting plan, one party must be able to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances—either in the lives of the parents of that of the child—that makes the modification necessary.
While the standard of “substantial change in circumstances” can encompass many different situations, common examples include:
- The parenting plan is no longer appropriate for the child’s age
- Abuse or neglect
- Violation of the order
- Loss of job or other change in financial stability
If the judge or magistrate approves the modification then the new parenting plan replaces the old one; however, if the proposed modification is rejected, the parties must continue to follow the original parenting plan.
Contact us today for parenting plan modification services
Whether through mediation or litigation, the Law Offices of Stacy Sabatini, Esq. offers experienced and compassionate services to New York parents located in Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties. For more information on how the Law Offices of Stacy Sabatini, Esq. can help with your parenting plan modification, please visit us online at www.sskfamilylaw.com or email our office online.