Modifying Your Maryland Parenting Plan
A parenting plan during divorce is created to establish how a child will be brought up by both parents who live separately. However, even the best parenting plan can only reflect the situation and facts when it was made. Sometimes, changes occur that require a parenting plan modification. It is essential to follow the parenting plan modification requirements below to accomplish this. If you need legal assistance, speak to our Maryland parenting plan modification lawyer at Shah & Kishore today.
What Is A Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is an agreement between parents on handling child custody matters. Each parent can use the parenting plan to make decisions in the child’s best interests. A parenting plan will typically address contentious issues between the parents, including:
- When each parent will spend time with the child, including parenting time and physical custody
- How important child-related decisions will be made, including significant decision-making and legal custody
- How conflicts regarding the child will be resolved
Once you have completed the parenting plan with your ex, it should be submitted to the family court. The judge will go over the parenting plan while considering what is in the child’s best interests. After the plan is approved, you will need to have any modifications to it approved by the court.
Why Would You Modify A Parenting Plan?
Life happens, and sometimes even the most well-thought-out parenting plan needs to be modified. Common reasons include the following:
- One of the parents wants to move to another city or state, and the current parenting plan does not reflect that circumstance.
- One party may accuse the other of mental or physical abuse of the child
- One of the parties cannot comply with the current parenting plan for other reasons
How Do You Modify A Maryland Parenting Plan?
Making changes to a Maryland parenting plan is challenging because family courts believe the court-approved plan was made with the child’s best interests in mind. However, if you agree with your ex, it is possible to make an informal modification to the parenting agreement without the court’s participation.
That said, even if you and your ex agree about the parenting plan modification, it is wise to let the court know about the change so you can obtain a consent order. Thus, if the other party suddenly objects to the change, you have a court order in place. Furthermore, if the other party does not adhere to the new parenting plan, you can have the court enforce it.
The court may have to intervene if you and your ex cannot agree to a parenting plan modification. The one who wants to modify the agreement must present convincing evidence that there is a material change in circumstances. Some of the qualifying material changes are:
- Interference with court-ordered child visitation
- Moving to another state
- Unable to comply with the previous plan
- Hazardous home situations
- Assault, abuse, or other violence
- Dramatic changes in the child’s behavior
Proving Best Interest Of The Child
Assume that you have proven to the judge that there has been a material change in circumstances. This does not automatically change the parenting plan and custody agreement. The petitioner must show that the modification will leave the child better off.
There is not an all-encompassing list of the considered factors, the family court judge will look at the big picture affecting the upbringing and care of the child. The judge also will examine why you want to modify the plan. For example, the judge will not change a parenting plan because you do not like driving 40 minutes in traffic to drop off the children. However, the judge may consider making a change if you can prove that the other parent is making it extremely difficult for you to visit the children.
The family court must be convinced that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests. Getting the court to approve a parenting plan modification is tricky and is best accomplished with the help of a parenting plan modification attorney in Maryland.
Key Elements Of A Parenting Plan
Parenting plans come in many sizes and shapes. However, there are several things that the best parenting plans have in common:
- A firm parenting schedule that involves both parents. Divorce can upset your child’s life and routine. Having a fixed parenting schedule offers a routine and stability they can count on.
- Be reasonable when setting the parenting plan: You may dislike your ex-spouse, but your child loves them. Remember that the child has a relationship with both parents, and they do not want to be stuck in the middle.
- Detail custody concerns: If you are concerned about your ex’s ability to be a parent, speak to your lawyer and the court. You may not like how they parent, but you cannot always change that. Also, if your ex has a drug or alcohol problem, the parenting plan should address this.
- Understand your rights: In most cases, you are entitled to be a part of your child’s life unless t. Legal and physical custody allows you to make significant decisions for the child and visit them regularly.
A significant part of the parenting plan is determining which person is charged with making important decisions for the child, including:
- Medical care
- Mental welfare
- Religious studies
This part of the parenting plan also includes who has the authority to select schools and medical providers and to sign the child up for camps, lessons, and activities. Again, you can share these roles or divide them as you see fit.
Remember that if you want to modify an existing parenting plan in court, you will need strong evidence of a material change in circumstances. Next, making the change must be in the child’s best interests. An experienced attorney best handles these challenging tasks.
Contact Our Maryland Parenting Plan Modification Attorney
It is understandable after a divorce if you want to move to another city or state to start anew. However, relocation is more complicated if you have children with your ex-spouse. Therefore, before you consider moving, you should talk to a qualified attorney to ensure Maryland’s strict laws are followed for child relocation. Please contact our Montgomery County child custody attorney at Shah & Kishore today at (301) 315-0001 to discuss your case.