There are a few ways to go about modifying an existing parenting plan.
The first and best option is for parents to discuss changes and come to an agreement of what is in the child’s best interest. The parents then have the agreement drafted, filed with the Court, they get a new Court Order and they are done. Unfortunately, it’s not usually that easy.
The second option is mediation. If both parties agree to work together amicably, but can’t seem to come to an agreement on their own, then mediation may be the best option.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where a neutral third party, often a lawyer or other professional, works with both parties to review the existing parenting plan, review the changes either or both parents are seeking and to facilitate the conversation to reach a final resolution that is agreeable to all.
While not required, in mediation you can bring an attorney with you or you can simply have an attorney review your mediation documents prior to you signing.
Mediation is much quicker than litigation and it is much more cost efficient.
It is also important to note that most parenting plan orders have a mandatory mediation requirement in them, which means that before a parent can file a Petition with the Court, they are required to attempt mediation to hopefully resolve the dispute prior to being able to initiate any type of litigation.
If the mediation fails, meaning the parents are unable to reach an agreement, then a parent may proceed and file a Petition to Modify with the Court.
If the Judge does not grant the Petition to Modify, the old orders remain in place and both parents must follow them.
As you can see, this can get very complicated.
If you find yourself, a friend or a loved one wanting or needing to file for a parenting plan modification and you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 994-8824 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.