One thing to count on in life is that things will change. If you’ve been through a divorce — and you have children — then you understand more than most that life can take a 180-degree turn. For this reason, when you create a parenting plan in your divorce — or when a judge creates one for you — even though the plan must be followed, the plan is not immutable. In other words, you may be able to modify or adjust the plan if it’s required.

When a parent or child experiences a significant change in circumstances, a modification to the parenting plan could be necessary. This modification could involve a change in parental custody, a change in the way visitations are carried out or a change in where and with whom the children live.

As soon as a change in life circumstances necessitates a modification, it’s important for the parents to pursue the modification immediately. In many cases, the parents can agree on a suitable change to the parenting plan, then submit their agreed changes to the court for approval. In other cases, if the other parent will not agree to the alteration, the parent who wants the change will have to petition the court.

To prevail in a parenting plan modification petition, parents need to — first and foremost — prove to the court why the change is in the best interest of the child. For example, perhaps one of the parents has a new job and the hours prevent him or her from visiting with the child under the current visitation schedule. Most courts will agree that it’s in the best interest of the child to visit with the parent.

If you feel your situation warrants a modification to your parenting plan, seek out legal assistance from a qualified family law attorney immediately.