ENFORCEMENT & MODIFICATION OF PARENTING PLAN
June 6, 2022
Anyone with children knows how hard it can be to juggle their lives and all their activities. For families with divorced parents, this can be even more complicated since you now have to establish and maintain a parenting plan that works for everyone. This is easier said than done, and unfortunately, some parents don’t consistently adhere to the plan or may consider relocating with a child after divorce.
If you’re divorced and have questions about enforcing or modifying a parenting plan that isn’t working for you, reach out to us at Duncan and Nobles LLC. Our attorneys are committed to meeting you where you’re at and helping you through any of your family law concerns. We’re located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, but can serve clients throughout Chester and Lancaster counties. Call us today to get started.
Enforcement of Parenting Plan
When you go through a divorce with children, you’ll have to establish a parenting plan with your ex-spouse that outlines how you will share time with them. This plan lays out what days and times the child will be with each parent, including pick-up and drop-off details and special schedules for holidays and summer break. If the divorcing couple is on relatively good terms, they can decide on a plan together and a judge will almost always approve it as long as it’s in the best interests of the child. If the couple cannot come to an agreement, they will have to enlist the help of a mediator, family law attorney, or judge.
Once a plan is in place, it is extremely important that both parents follow it or they could jeopardize their custody rights. If you need help with parenting plan enforcement, the first thing to remember is that you should never withhold visitation from the other parent for any reason barring a legitimate suspicion of abuse or neglect.
You should begin documenting the occurrence when they aren’t following the plan, and it can be very helpful to contact a child custody lawyer who can advise you of your next steps. They may be able to help you resolve these issues outside of the courts, but in some cases, you may have to file a petition to a judge for help. A judge will likely request that you work with a mediator, and sometimes, they may issue a fine to the parent who isn’t following the plan or approve a modification of the plan.
Modification of Parenting Plan
There are a number of reasons you may need a parenting plan modification. One of the most common questions we get is, “What if my ex is violating our parenting plan?” This can definitely be grounds to change a child custody agreement, but there are also other common reasons that you may need to change it. For example, if the needs of the child change or if the living situation of one parent is no longer stable, you may request that a parenting plan be changed.
If the two parents agree on a new plan, then they can simply submit the new agreement to the court and a judge will likely approve it. If the parents cannot agree, then one parent must submit a petition to the court asking for a modification. To accomplish this, the petitioner must prove that there has been a “material change” in circumstances. This may mean that one parent has routinely neglected their parenting duties, that the child has health or behavioral concerns that are out of the control of one parent, or that a parent who was once deemed unfit to share custody has now completed a rehabilitation program.
In most cases, a change like remarrying is not considered material and a modification will not be granted. However, a court will consider all aspects of the family’s life when considering a change including the preference of the child if they’re older, the educational needs of the child, or any indication of neglect or abuse. Whatever the judge decides, they will always do so with the best interests of the child in mind.
One common occurrence that could affect a custody arrangement is if one parent relocates. In many cases, a judge will encourage you to keep the parenting plan as-is, even if a parent moves to another city. However, if one parent moves more than 100 miles away from the child’s primary address, then a judge may consider a change to accommodate this.
If the custodial parent wants to move out of state, they are required by law to ask the other parent’s permission. If the other parent refuses, it will likely go to a judge. When deciding, a judge will consider the needs of the child, the parents, and the child’s wishes, how well each parent has encouraged a relationship with the other parent, the physical and mental health of the parents, and the advantages and disadvantages of the move.
Legal Guidance You Can Trust
If you’re in the Rock Hill, South Carolina, area and would like to speak with a family law attorney with years of experience tackling issues surrounding parenting time and custody, contact us at Duncan and Nobles LLC.