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Time for a change? Seeking modification to your parenting plan

If you currently have a parenting plan in place that no longer meets your needs or serves the best interests of your child, it may be time for a change. This is not uncommon, as many things can change between the time a parenting plan is set and the time it expires.

In this situation, it can be easy to think that all you need to do is just adjust the plan informally, making changes here and there as you see fit. However, modifying a custody arrangement is a legal procedure that must be taken very seriously.

As noted in this document by theĀ Florida courts, the process of modifying a parenting plan begins with formally notifying the other parent and filing a request with the courts.

The request you file with the courts will need to include a lot of information, including the reason why you are seeking modification. Generally speaking, courts require that these reasons be "substantial, material and unanticipated" in order to warrant a legal modification to the parenting schedule.

The next steps will depend on how and if the other parent responds to the notification. If he or she doesn't respond, you can seek a default judgment. If he or she does not contest the modification, you will go right to the final hearing stage. If he or she does contest the modification, either you will need to try and find a resolution through mediation or a trial date will be set.

In any of these cases, the result will ultimately be a court approving the request for modification or denying it. Parents will be required to comply with whatever the courts decide.

Failure to take the appropriate channels for modifying a parenting plan could spell disaster for parents and potentially put a child in danger. Without a formal agreement, enforcement of parenting time can prove to be inconsistent, and parents can wind up facing consequences for violations they didn't think were violations.

If you have questions or concerns about making changes to your parenting plan, discussing your options with an attorney before you agree to anything will be critical. With legal guidance, you can seek a modified plan that continues to reflect your situation and protect your rights and your child's well-being.

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