Parenting Plan Modification
Sometimes, life and situations change such that the existing parenting plan no longer meets the needs of the parties and children. As a result, parenting plans must change to meet our needs and the needs of our children. However, in order for the court to grant a modification, there must be a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances since the last order. For example:
- Lost job/reduced hours*
- Child no longer lives with the parent who was receiving support
- Deployment without a specific return date
*Changes in hours and job status are especially prevalent amidst COVID-19. Courts are encouraging parents to work together to find a suitable arrangement to fluctuating circumstances.
If both parents agree to the modification, then, a new agreement can be drafted, signed, and sent to the court for approval. Where the parents don’t agree to the terms of the modification, it will be up to the court to decide whether a modification is warranted. The best interest of the child will always be the primary focus and guide the decision-making process.
According to Florida Statute 61.13001, “relocation” is a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent from their primary place of residence. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from their current residence and for at least 60 consecutive days.
When relocation is requested, the parents may come to an agreement on a new parenting plan by signing a written agreement that specifies the terms of the move and new parenting plan. The agreement must, at a minimum,:
- show that both parents agree to the relocation,
- designate a time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent, and
- specify how transportation of the child will be handled for visitation periods.
If the parents don’t agree to the relocation, the parent wanting to move must file a petition to relocate with the court prior to relocating outlining specific factors; such as, where the party is moving, where the child will attend school, how the time-sharing schedule will change, who will be responsible for transportation of the child, etc.