Last Updated on May 30, 2023 @ 9:30 pm
Modifying a Bad Parenting Plan
A child visitation schedule, also called a parenting plan, serves as both a calendar for parents to follow regarding parenting time with their children as well as the allocation of parental responsibility (decision making) for their children. A child visitation schedule (parenting plan) is particularly important for parents who share physical custody of their children in one way or another. A child visitation lawyer helps parents by drafting a parenting schedule and provides assistance to his/her client if disagreements arise regarding the visitation schedule. The vast majority of child visitation lawyers that are skilled at fixing visitation agreements provide free consultations to discuss your issues in detail – so an attorney should always be consulted.
Child Visitation Schedule Problems?
Some parents are able to establish a visitation schedule within their parenting plan (also known as an “Allocation Judgment”, “Parenting Plan”, or “Custody Judgment”, depending on the state) and visitation schedule through mediation or settlement while others need assistance from a judge in court. When parents create the visitation schedule themselves, they have more input and this allows them to be creative regarding visitation details. Many parents are able to work things out amicably in this manner.
However, what initially seems like a suitable visitation schedule may become unworkable in the future. Parents might change jobs, become remarried and have another child, or need to move for a job or to a different home. In addition, if the plan does not account for details like which parent is responsible for a sick child being sent home from school, disagreements could arise. Even something as simple as transportation to and from the home of the other parent can cause an argument. When parents disagree on an aspect of the visitation schedule or encounter situations that are unaccounted for in the parenting plan, they should get legal help and modify the visitation schedule.
Schedules Can be Altered if Both Parties Agree
Child visitation schedules are a signed court order and are legally binding – even though it may be an agreement, when entered by a judge. A court entered parenting plan carries with it the full force of the court system to enforce the terms of the agreement should a dispute arise. However, these plans can be altered provided that both parents agree to the changes. Child visitation days and times may be changed and as children get older, parents tend to be more flexible with the arrangements because they and their children have become comfortable with the living situation.
When both parties agree on certain changes to a parenting plan, modifying the visitation schedule is relatively easy. A discussion with a lawyer should take place where the agreed changes are discussed and put to paper. Typically, if only a small portion of the parenting plan is going to be changed, (such as extending weekend visitation from Friday-Sunday to become Friday to Monday; or changing pick-up/drop-off location), a lawyer would type up a one or two page Agreed Order that both parents would sign and then have it entered in court. This can happen fairly quickly and without the need for multiple court dates.
When a parenting plan needs to have significant modifications that are agreed, a lawyer would typically re-write the entire parenting plan so that there isn’t confusion as to which portions of the old plan still govern and which portions of the new parenting plan control.
Modifying a Parenting Plan Without Agreement
Even if things move along relatively smoothly, there may come a time when one or both parents want to change the visitation schedule but cannot agree on the changes to be made. At that point, they must request a visitation schedule modification from the court. A child visitation lawyer can provide valuable help in both situations. The majority of states now require parents to wait a certain amount of time before coming back to court to modify a parenting plan (unless it is an agreement – parents can always modify a parenting plan by agreement). In many states, parents should wait at least 2-years before seeking a modification of the parenting plan unless some type of emergency arises.
The typical process for modifying a visitation schedule or parenting plan when there is not an agreement would be to first seek mediation. Most courts require this (unless it is an emergency, of course),because the goal is to get people to work out there disagreements through a process of mutual negotiation and come to an agreement, rather than through a lengthy court battle. Should mediation fail, the court would then be the next stop for the parent that seeks to modify the parenting plan. Many times when mediation fails, the court will appoint a neural third party attorney to represent the best interests of the children. This would be a child representative / guardian ad litem. A child representative will represent the child only, but the parents will pay the child representative’s bill (some states/counties have guardian ad litem’s that can be appointed for free).
A child representative will essentially be “the boots on the ground” for the court. He or she will investigate the situation from all angles by interviewing the children’s, parents, family, therapists, and teachers. The child representative will then give his/her recommendation to the judge on what he/she believes is in the best interests of the children. For the most part, judges take the recommendation of the child representative very seriously and usually order their recommendations. For this reason, it is essential that a best first impression of a child representative happen every time a parent meets wit or talks to the child representative. Make sure they see you on your best behaviors at all times.
How Does a Lawyer Help?
Parents should understand their child visitation rights and work out a mutually acceptable visitation schedule themselves whenever possible. When they cannot agree, an attorney may help them resolve their issues or present the case to a court. In the end, the best interests of the child is what matters most and parents should keep this in mind before they begin arguing about the visitation schedule or other aspects in the parenting plan. An experienced lawyer (found by clicking here) knows how to negotiate the best changes possible to your parenting plan. An experienced lawyer also knows which child representatives are good and which are not, and they will help your case by getting someone they trust and respect appointed to the case if ordered by the judge. Having a lawyer fix a bad visitation agreement is the safest way for a parent that needs a change to ensure their rights are protected.
9 thoughts on “Lawyers Can Fix Bad Child Visitation Agreements”
My friends son filed for divorce because of many reasons I can get into later. His soon to be ex wife said if he did she would make his life miserable and she has.
She filed a restraining order and so much has gone wrong for him.
He is at the lowest of lows. He has a son, is a good dad, and there was never any reason for a restraining order. If any she needed one who is verbally abusive, alcoholic and physical.
The court seems to not care. His attorneys say he can’t use the million emails she sends to him to get back together or threatening.
If is so unfair. He now lost his job due to his depression over this. He has no attorney, no money some custody and is living with his parents.
He has been humiliated and unfairly treated by her and the court system
what can he do. He is in a constant state of fear of retribution from her and her attorneys.
We hear these stories way too often. Many people sit back and think, “my spouse would never do THAT to me, no matter how angry he/she was, because he/she wouldn’t want to hurt our family (kids).” Then, 6-months later, an order of protection is filed alleging something happened (that probably didn’t happen) and a parent is tossed out of their kids life.
Without an attorney, this is a situation that does not have great fix. With an attorney, it isn’t even an even or guaranteed fix. The problem here is that once certain things like this are put in motion, it starts to move like a train on a track and it is oftentimes extremely difficult to upend the direction of the case and bring the focus back to the ‘normal’ aspects of the divorce: those being child custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, division of assets and division of debts.
Depending what the terms of the restraining order (order of protection?) are, it shouldn’t limit hi ability to have parenting time (also called visitation) with his son. The courts normally, if there is an issue between the parents, keep those issues and the kid issues separate if reasonably possible to do so. So visitation and parenting time for dad here should still be able to progress and be set according to a parenting schedule that is “in the best interest of the child.” The best interests of the child is the standard that virtually every court in the country uses to determine parenting time, custody, and other child related items.
Now, the exact elements or factors that go into determining the best interests of the child standard may differ from state to state a little bit, but the primary factors to consider would be the following (notes next to each showing the weight the court likely will give to each factor):
1. The child’s wishes, dependent on the age, maturity, and ability to express a reasoned preference between parents (for a 10-year old, this means almost nothing; for an AP-level straight A sophomore in high-school, this means something. for a high-school sophomore that has c’s and D’s and wants to party at ‘cool mom’s house’ instead of ‘strict do your homework dad’s house’, the kids opinion means nothing.)
2. The child’s home, school, and community life (is the majority time parents house adequate and clean, in a nice neighborhood -no drive-by shootings on a regular basis, is the school a quality school that the child enjoys, has friends, and does well in?)
3. The mental and physical health of all individuals (this applies to the child and both parents or other people living with a parent. A parent with mental illness that is in treatment, on medication, and manages things well is perfectly fine- no issues there. But a parent that is mentally unwell, refuses to even attempt to seek treatment, and is otherwise not well is an issue. Lots of people have mental health issues, it’s best to steer clear of calling the other parent crazy because they take Zoloft because it is likely the judge, or his/her spouse, or his/her kid is on something similar and the judge does not think their loved one is dangerous – so don’t step on this landmine).
4. Who has been the primary caretaker during the child’s life? (Did one parent work and the other was a stay at home parent that was responsible for the majority of doctors appointments, school meetings, etc.? Or was it pretty much 50/50 – both parents worked and those things were divided pretty equally? This factor goes a long way – not to show that one parent is bad, but that one parent has more familiarity with all of these things).
5. Has either parent committed any violent act against the other or against the child? (While a domestic abuse complaint does not necessarily mean the alleged perpetrator shouldn’t have primary custody, it does go to the argument of lack of self control, and that is not good. Now, some violent act like slapping a spouse or smashing a tv that happens in front of the child is serious – extremely serious. And any abuse to a child is also very serious).
6. Other factors the court deems important. (This is the catch-all. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a judge can take into account numerous other things such as one parent having an extended and helpful family living close-by, or in the same building. Or one parent moving in with an ex-felon, or a sex offender. It could even be that one parent lives in a beautiful neighborhood with awesome schools and the other parent lives in a small apartment with terrible schools – even though both parents are equally good, the court would view the nice house and nice school as being in the best interests of the child).
This situation with your friend sounds more complex than simply having had some allegations turn against him. If he has parenting time, he should exercise it to the fullest extent and be asking the court for additional parenting time, laying out the specific reasons why in a concise and organized format. He should also make sure to keep his mouth shut in court most of the time and not show great anger or emotion when things aren’t going his way – again, this shows lack of self control – something judges absolutely loathe.
Without an attorney being involved, he needs to determine what is the most parenting time he can get and then work to make it happen. He also needs to play nice, even if not fair to do so, because if mom gets angry, her lawyers will continue the barrage and bury him. Tell him to make his plea to the attorneys that he is willing to make things easier on her if he can have more parenting time – this means him saying things like “I’ll handle all the transportation for my pickups and drop-offs if I can have more time. I’ll handle doctors appointments half the time and take off work half the time so she won’t be stuck doing it all.” Things like that go a long way – her lawyers do not care what he wants in the slightest – its a “what can you do for me” situation, not a “what do you want” situation – again, they don’t care what you want. They only care what you can do for them to make them look good to their client and justify their work on the case – so make it easy and give up something to get parenting time – but don’t be foolish in doing so.
The best thing that can be done here, of course, is to hire an expert child custody attorney though. Only an experienced divorce lawyer can really grab a hold of this case and straighten it out – and yes, it’s not gong to be free or cheap, but this is his family, his child, and he needs to find a way to fight through the pain and get his family back no matter what it takes. IT’s not easy, its extremely difficult, but with friends like you and hopefully family encouraging him, he can get through this.
I’m a mother of 2 beautiful girls. My baby daddy mother has full custody of them. I work she work and her daughters work. I have them on the days I’m off or either they with my cousin. Sometimes they with their aunt when she off. Their grandma gives me hell by keeping them but their daddy don’t keep them. She calls me all types of names when I say I have something to do. I don’t know what to do. I love my girls. I see them every chance I get. I also pay child support. It just seems not right that I always got to keep them and their daddy don’t. He had got married and moved away. His mother act like he don’t have to do nothing. It’s always me.
My son has a three-year-old out of wedlock. His girlfriend constantly tells him no you can not see because I don’t like your actions and the way you talkin. She also holds him from my son because she assumes that he has relapsed and has started doing drugs again, so she says she doesn’t want her son around him, which is fine I don’t blame her in a way but if I’m there as the grandmother or his sisters and brothers under supervised visits why not? She says no no no all he does is hurt our son by doing drugs, and he knows I told him if he chooses to Two drugs he will not see me or our son. I said no you keeping him from his father hurts him more because he’s always asking for Daddy. She tells her three-year-old that Daddy is working fire away and that’s why he cannot see Daddy. Can she keep my three-year-old grandson from my son Assuming he’s on drugs? Even if he was doing drugs I would think it was none of her business what he does on his time, She’s Not Innocent she’s a Wine Drinker.. My son is a very good father and I really don’t think he wouldn’t let anything happen to his little boy. She has been told bye other people my son has been seen straight and he’s not doing any drugs at all and she still continues to hold my three-year-old grandson from my son because he admitted he screwed up once and she doesnt believe just once..Is this legal can she do this?
Ummm if a mother doesn’t feel comfortable letting him get her when she’s not around because he has a history of drug use how can you blame her? I know that’s your son so you’re gonna take his side but come on now. These other comments are understandable but you sound delusional.
My daughter has joint custody of her and her ex husbands son. She is primary custody holder. They have 59/50 visitation, and my grandson turns twelve July 25th 2018. He has never wanted to go with his father as my daughter took him to court when the child was two to utilize his visitation as they were so spurattic. Anyway now their son is literally making himself sick not wanting to go to his fathers house . He remarried, and has two small children under the age of four. He says his father screams at his step mother, and they constantly are whipping the oldest of their two children together. My question is can my grandson at this age go in front of a judge , and tell him what his reasons are for not wanting to go to his fathers. In the four years he has had 50/50 visitation he has moved four times as well. He never keeps my daughter informed of where he’s living, and he ha staking hi. Out of state with out informing her as well. He’s in the National Guard, and he feels as if he is above the laws.
I hope you got helpful response to your question; I know from experience it difficult to watch when a child is forced to visit a parent who the child feels is emotionally and physically abusive.
as father that’s paying child support has to be forest to pay medical insurance even if your kids don’t want nothing to do with you or wants you out of there lifes. Don’t get the wrong idea I want my kids In my life but they don’t want to be in mine
There children. They didn’t ASK to be yours. You made them. Suck it up