Your divorce was a long time ago, and your children are growing up so fast, you feel the divorce denied you time with them. They go on school trips, play sports and join clubs, and sometimes this leaves you out of the loop.

You initially set up the parenting plan as part of the custody portion of the divorce. But now your children’s activities interrupt the agreed-upon plan. Involving yourself in their interests is essential, but so is the one-on-one time. You do have the option of changing the parenting plan.

Parenting plan

Unfortunately, wanting to spend more time with your children may not be enough reason to change the agreement. When modifying the plan, the court considers the best interest of the child. You may need to provide proof there is a material change in circumstances that necessitates the change.

If you only want to change the amount of time you spend with your children, the change may be easier to do. You can petition for a modification seeking a new scheduling arrangement.

Material changes

Deciding to modify custody, making you the primary residential parent means you carry the burden of proof. Some changes in circumstances may include the following:

  • A child’s needs changed significantly
  • A parent’s living circumstances changed
  • A parent’s failure to adhere to the agreed arrangement
  • A parent wants to move out of state
  • Abuse or neglect

Also, the court has three further questions to ask:

  1. Did the change occur after the filing of the original parenting plan?
  2. Was the change not known or reasonably anticipated before the entered order?
  3. Does the change affect the child’s well-being?

You and your ex may be able to negotiate the change in scheduled visitation with mediation. However, trying to establish a material change in circumstances that makes you the primary residential parent may take you to court to let a judge decide on the modification. If this is the case, not only may you have to provide evidence, but your ex may bring proof to the hearing as well.