When Things Change, You Need to Modify Your Parenting PlanDivorce brings a lot of changes, but most folks I help can anticipate the majority of them. What really throws people off, however, is when things need to change after the divorce is finalized and the parenting plan is set. When there is a “material change in your circumstances,” and that change is going to affect your children (either through child support or through your available time to be with them), you must go through the court system to modify your parenting plan.

Common reasons why parents request a modification

In my time as a Maryville divorce attorney, I’ve helped mothers and fathers seeking modifications for a number of reasons. The most common ones usually include:

  • A parent who has lost his or her job
  • A parent who has started a new job that has
    • A different salary, or
    • Necessitated a move out of state, or farther away in state
  • A parent who has failed to adhere to the current plan
  • A parent whose lifestyle or circumstances have been fundamentally changed
  • A child whose needs have been fundamentally changed, perhaps because of an illness or injury

Every family’s story is unique, and clients seek modification for many reasons. In doing so, the court may also look at other outside factors before making the decision.

Taking the next steps

The State of Tennessee has its parenting plan order available online, but I cannot caution you strongly enough about trying to DIY your modification. Like with any legal document, even a small mistake may be enough to have the request thrown out, so having an attorney on your side helps protect you, and helps move you through the process more quickly. One of the things my team and I do for clients is help them with the modification, ensuring that all documentation is sorted and accounted for before submitting it to the court.

If you and your former spouse have an amicable relationship (but especially if you do not), you may be able to negotiate these changes through the process of mediation before we submit the documents. It will save you some time and some money, and judges are often more likely to grant the modification to the existing Order if they see that you are presenting a united front. Even if both parents actually want to modify the order in the same way, and the change will not affect the wellbeing of their child, they still need to petition the court. I represent my clients’ interests during their mediation sessions, working with the mediator so that my clients’ goals are communicated clearly during the process.

If you wish to modify your court Order, or if your former spouse is requesting a modification and you cannot tell whether or not it will affect your child, it’s time to seek guidance from an experienced Maryville family lawyer. Please contact my law firm, Shepherd and Associates, P.C. by filling out this contact form or by calling 865.225.9655.



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