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How Do I Modify the Parenting Schedule?

A parenting schedule (“visitation schedule”) is established during a divorce proceeding.  This establishes the number of overnights the child will spend with each parent, the holiday schedule, and many other issues related to the time each parent will have with the child or children.  So, what’s the process to modify the parenting schedule?

It’s not uncommon for the for the original parenting schedule to change or evolve over time.  As the children get older, there may be legitimate reasons to modify the parenting schedule.  There are two paths to accomplishing this:  The first is to go back to court for a post-decree modification.  The second is to reach an agreed upon modification and submit it to the court.

If you are going to go with the first option, it’s important to understand that you may not have as much latitude, especially if the other parent objects.  In the court’s eyes, there must be statutory criteria for the change.  This may present a challenge for the parent who wants to initiate the change.

The important point to remember is that the court will want to see the compelling reason for the change.  More importantly, it must be focused on the child, not just for the preference of the parent.  You’ll be required to prove why the current schedule isn’t working for the child/children.

But remember, there’s another option.  This is to reach an agreement between the two parents.  This agreement should be submitted and entered into the records.  This negotiation will need to take into account the impact on the child.  However, there are generally no statutory hurdles preventing/limiting the parents in the effort to modify the parenting schedule.

There’s always the potential that one parent will want to make a modification but the other parent will object.  Again, if possible, the two should attempt to reach an agreement outside of the court.  If this seems unlikely, the option of making a formal petition for a post-decree modification is available.  Unfortunately, as I’ve stated in other articles and videos, when you take an issue into the courtroom, you’re leaving the decision up to a third party who will strive to make a decision in the best interest of the child/children.  At the same time, you’re giving up some control in the situation.