Enforcement & Modification of Parenting Plans
If you have children and are going through a divorce, it doesn’t mean you’ll stop taking care of your kids together. Your role as a parent will continue whether or not you’re married and part of the divorce process will entail coming to an agreement on a child custody and child visitation schedule that works for both parties. However, once this plan is in place, you may decide that the initial agreement isn’t working for one reason or another, and you may want to request a parenting plan modification or child custody enforcement.
For help navigating your choices during this time and ensuring you’re complying with all state laws, contact us at the Hawkins Law Office, P.C. in Edwardsville, Illinois. From our main offices, our attorney Deb Hawkins can represent clients all around the area, including Belleville, Carlinville, Jerseyville, Vandalia, Hillsboro, and Greenville.
Enforcement of Parenting Plans
One of the most common questions we get from parents is, “What can I do if my ex is violating our child custody agreement?” The most important thing to do in this case is enlist the help of a family law attorney who can advise you on your options and ensure your parental rights remain protected. It’s extremely important not to take matters into your own hands and withhold visitation from one parent if your co-parent has failed to send you child support or if they’ve been late on a pickup or dropoff. If you don’t go through the proper channels, you could be jeopardizing your own rights. Failure to pay child support is never a reason to violate a court-ordered visitation schedule.
If you are having issues and want help enforcing a parenting plan, your lawyer may first be able to help you communicate with your co-parent either through their own channels or with the help of a mediator. If this is unsuccessful, then you’ll have to petition the courts for help enforcing the custody order (also called a “parental responsibilities” order). Along with your attorney, you’ll fill out a request which will describe how the order is being violated, what you’ve already tried to do to resolve the problem, and what you’d like the court to do to fix the problem.
Modification of Parenting Plans
There are other times when you may need to modify an existing parenting plan, and this can be requested if you meet one of three criteria:
Both parents mutually agree on the proposed change.
The current environment the child is in is somehow causing them harm or placing them in danger.
A substantial change has occurred in the life of a parent, or two years have passed since the last modification.
Possible reasons for a modification could include one parent gaining or losing employment, or the child’s medical or educational needs have changed.
When you petition the court for a modification, a judge will always consider the best interests of the child above all else. They may also consider the child’s preferences if old enough, the emotional and physical health of the child, how well the living environment each parent provides meets the needs of the children, or how a move may affect the well being of the child. Like petitioning the courts for enforcement of a custody agreement, you should also work with an experienced child custody lawyer when requesting a modification, especially if it will be contested by your co-parent.
If you’re thinking about relocating with a child after divorce to a different state, you can only do this with a court order even if you are the custodial parent. A judge must approve the move and ensure that relocating is in the child’s best interests, not just the parent who wants to move.
The judge will consider the following:
How far away the child will be from their other parent after the move
Whether a reasonable visitation schedule can still be upheld
The motivation of the relocating parent (whether the move is for legitimate reasons or done simply to limit the other parent’s visitation rights)
Why the other parent is refusing the move
How the move will benefit the child
Moving within the state does not require a judge’s approval, but it should still only be done when both parents agree to the move and they’re both able to play a meaningful and consistent role in the life of their child. It’s still possible for one parent to contest an in-state move as having a material effect on the child’s well-being. Because of this, you should always consult with a family law attorney anytime you wish to move more than 50 miles away.
Individualized Legal Advocacy
If you have questions about changing or enforcing a parenting plan or custody agreement and are in the Edwardsville, Illinois area, reach out to our attorney at the Hawkins Law Office, P.C. to schedule a consultation. We will help advise you on your decisions, help you file necessary paperwork, and fight for your rights and the best interests of your family.