During a divorce, even an amicable one, issues regarding children can get complicated and difficult. Determining child support and child custody agreements is typically the most important part of your divorce agreement and it’s crucial to consider every possible outcome. However, none of us can really predict the future, and at some point you may want to change your Parenting Plan.
If, at some time after your divorce, circumstances have changed for you, your ex-spouse, or your child, it might become necessary to modify your child custody agreement to better align with these new life changes. You and your ex may make an informal agreement for a new child custody agreement – however, it’s best to go over your options with a family law attorney. Without a formal court order, you have no legal recourse if your ex-spouse violates any part of your new agreement.
We’ve put together some common questions and answers about Nashville Parenting Plans. Your lawyer can give you guidance on your specific situation.
- Is it possible to get my child custody agreement changed? Yes. Parenting Plans don’t have to be permanent. However, only the court can modify them, and only if circumstances both warrant the change and it’s in the best interests of the child/children.
- How does the court determine if an agreement can be modified? First, the court determines whether there’s an eligible change in circumstances. This change must have an impact on the child. For example, if the child is thriving under current circumstances, the court likely won’t change a custody order. However, if a child is suddenly no longer thriving in their current environment, a custody order may be granted for the child’s best interests. Then, a new custody hearing will begin if the parents can’t reach an agreement after mediation.
- Can a Parenting Plan be modified if one parent wants to move away? Yes, relocation of a parent counts as an eligible change in circumstances. Typically in Tennessee, moves more than 50 miles away require a relocation hearing or a change in custody arrangement. The court will determine what’s in the best interest of the child.
- Can my child support be modified too? Yes. Child support orders can be modified as well, as long as there’s a change in circumstances – at least a 15% increase or decrease in income, significant changes in the child’s care needs, or other expenses. These modifications also go through the court.
- What if I am deployed in the military and my spouse tries to change our Parenting Plan? The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) gives legal protections to active duty servicemembers involved in civil cases. This includes child custody hearings. If your ex brings a custody modification case while you are deployed, the court has the power to delay the case until you are able to attend.
Even if you and your ex-spouse agree on all aspects of your child custody arrangement, it’s important you get a court order – for your safety and the safety of your child. An informal or “handshake” agreement won’t hold up if you need to take legal action for unforeseeable events.
The experienced family law attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC can talk to you about your particular child custody situation and Parenting Plan needs. We’ll help you work to find a solution that’s in the best interests of your child and family. Please call 615.454.9899 or use our contact form to schedule a consultation at our Nashville office.