Do I Need To Modify The Parenting Plan If My Child’s Parent Agrees?
At the time you put together your first parenting plan or perhaps the court orders one, everyone is in the dark. What you are putting together is based on your current situation and what you think will be best for the children. You cannot predict the future and you certainly do not know if the plan will be workable.
Sometimes, parents realize that the parenting plan they agreed or that was court ordered, is not working for the family. At that point people who have a decent co-parenting relationship might agree to a routine schedule or holiday schedule outside of the court order. Rather than go to court to modify it, they operate on “good faith.” In other words, because things are going well between the parties and they agree on the changes, they see no reason to go to court.
This is a recipe for disaster.
“Good Faith” Agreements Between Parents Are Not Court Orders
All too often clients coming to our firm complaining that despite an agreement between them and the other parent, the other parent is going back on their word. Most times the other parent decides to enforce the court ordered parenting plan when the “good faith” agreement is no longer working for them.
At this point the only option is to file a petition to bring forward and modify the existing parenting plan. You can only hope that the court will modify the plan accordingly.
Because the “good faith” agreement was never court ordered, you can’t file for contempt when the other parent refuses to follow that agreement. And if you try to enforce the agreement and fail to follow the court order parenting plan, they might petition to hold you in contempt!
Not only could this situation make your life more difficult, but it would also break a routine schedule that the kids have become accustomed to. Certainly, that is not in their best interests.
There Is A Solution to This Problem!
Avoid all of this by modifying your parenting plan. If you and your child’s other parent decide that the current parenting plan is not working and agree to modifications, make it official! File a petition to bring forward and modify the parenting plan.
The statue, RSA 461-A:11 allows for modifications any time by agreement of the parties. If you and your child’s other parent agree, you will not need to worry about establishing any other grounds for the modification. You probably won’t have to go to court and your legal fees will be minimal.
What If the Other Parent Does Not Want to Make the Changes to the Parenting Plan Official in Court?
If the other parent does not want to make it official by obtaining a court ordered modification, you should strongly consider filing a petition to change court order. If there is no agreement, then you will have to establish one of the statutory factors giving the court the authority to modify the parenting plan.
If you do not want to go to court you have two options. First, you can agree to a non-binding modification at your own risk. Second, you tell the other parent you’re sticking to the court ordered parenting plan until they agree to file a petition to modify. Telling the other parent you will not agree to any changes unless they are court ordered may get the other parent to agree to the petition.
Seek Experienced Legal Counsel To Protect Yourself and Your Children
It is great when people can successfully co-parent. But don’t let an amicable co-parenting relationship lull you into a false sense of security when making informal changes to a court-ordered parenting plan. Call the experienced attorneys at Bernazzani Law today for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if filing amotion to modify your parenting plan makes sense for your situation.
Call our law office today at (603) 261-2214 to schedule a free case evaluation.