If you are co-parenting in California, it is highly likely that your relationship with that co-parent is governed in part by a parenting plan. Depending on when the original order was put into place, you may have been operating under the same set of terms for years.
If your family’s circumstances have changed significantly and your child’s best interests are no longer accurately met by the expectations laid out in your original parenting plan, it might be time to modify it. You will need to consider different approaches to modification based on whether you and your co-parent can agree to any alterations that you may have in mind.
If you can reach an agreement
You and your co-parent are empowered to modify the terms of your parenting plan, provided that these modifications honor your child’s best interests and provided that you can agree to the specific alterations in question.
You will simply want to make sure that you take steps to file your modification with the court. Otherwise, these modifications will not be legally enforceable. That oversight could leave you vulnerable to accusations of a breach and to an inability to hold your co-parent accountable for breaching the new terms.
If an agreement cannot be reached
If your co-parent does not agree to your proposed modification, you will need to file a formal request for the court to modify it. You will need to be prepared to explain why your request should be granted as a reflection of your child’s current best interests. You will also need to be prepared to explain how your circumstances have fundamentally changed – resulting in the need to modify your agreement – since the order was first handed down.
Carefully considering whether your current co-parenting arrangement could benefit from a child custody modification may be an effort that is worth your time. As your child grows and your family’s needs evolve, making adjustments to this consequential document could result in any number of positive consequences.