If you are the divorced parent of a minor child, you already know how contentious and divisive issues that concern children can be. You likely have a well thought-out parenting plan in place, but that plan may not be working as well as it once did. As children get older, plans may need to be adjusted. Read on to learn more about altering parenting plans and your child's part in that process.
A divorce can be final, but issues that involve minor children are never considered final by the family court system. Children are a protected population, and the courts take seriously their duty to protect the most innocent and vulnerable parties involved in divorce. The overriding principle must be to make decisions based on what is best for the child, which may sometimes be at odds with what works best for the parents.
Parenting plans which consist of child custody and visitation agreements that are agreed upon when the child is young will seldom work as well once that child gets older. Older children, such as teens and "tweens," often chafe at the ordered visitation and custody restrictions, which may interfere with their burgeoning social lives and increased educational responsibilities. If your parenting plan needs a refresher, you may want to carefully consider the answers to the following questions, which might mirror the questions asked by the family court judge at a hearing to alter the parenting plan orders.
1. What is motivating the request for an alteration? Be certain that your child is not attempting to spend more time with the more permissive parent. Children in this age group will not benefit from being left to their own devices most of the time, so make sure that there are solid reasons for making a change.
2. Has there been a change in the fitness of one of the parents? There was likely a good reason that one parent was chosen to be the main custodial parent in the first place, so a careful reevaluation of both parents may be called for. Situations and people do change, and a judge will only order a change in custody if major gains or losses in parental fitness can be proven. The new custodial parent should be able to provide a stable, safe and healthy atmosphere for child raising.
3. Is this change a result of an impulse? Most people recognize that children in this age group can be moody and impulsive, but taking a parenting agreement back to court can be expensive. Make sure that your child understands that this change should not be considered temporary.
4. Do all parties agree to the change? Judges will often quickly approve a change that all agree upon.
If you have problems answering some of these questions, you may need to do some further evaluation. Speak to your family law attorney as soon as possible. For more information, check out links like http://madisonlf.com.