The most common reason parents return to court is to change their existing parenting plan. As children grow older, their needs change and the plan that was in place when they were a toddler simply doesn’t fit when they are a teen. That’s when some parents may need support and help to negotiate a new plan.

However, a child’s age isn’t the only reason parents want to change an existing parenting plan. A parent may change jobs, change the hours they work, or move too far away to pick up or drop off their child from school on time. Health issues for either parent or the child could contribute to the need for change—even addiction or a recurrence of mental health concerns may require a change be made in the best interest of the child.

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When it comes to changing an existing parenting plan or custody schedule, the reasons are endless. Let’s dive into some of the most common reasons.

Holiday Break or Summer Schedule needs to be adjusted

Again, as a child gets older he or she may opt to stay longer at each parent’s home during a Holiday or Summer Break. Plus, school breaks provide more flexibility for a parent/child who may not have as much time together during the regular schedule with each other, especially if the other parent has the majority of time during the school year. As children get older, parents often compromise by having their child spend alternating their weeks.

Change in Schools

Unfortunately, parents don’t always agree where their children should attend school. For example, when a parent moves out of the school district, the other parent may not want their child to change schools. Or, one parent may want to homeschool while the other wants the children to attend public or private school. When negotiations break down and parents simply can’t agree, they may seek or need help to make a decision.

Change in Transportation

There are all sorts of reasons why transportation may need to be adjusted. One or both parents may want to move and a half-way meeting place may need to be established. Restraining orders may require a third party to intercede when dropping off and picking up the kids. A parent may lose his or her driver’s license or a child may get old enough to drive and not need an adult to supply transportation.

Extra-Curricular Activities

As children get older their extra-curricular activities often become more involved. Little League may turn into travel ball and require overnights out of town. Swim competitions and dance recitals sometimes require hours of practice. It’s not uncommon for parents to be frustrated when their child’s extra-curricular activities interfere with the time they are scheduled to spend together. Successful coParents assess every situation, look at what is best for the child, and make a decision. It may help to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Ask yourself, “will our child feel comfortable with this change”? If the answer is no, it’s time for you and your coParent to rethink the solution together.


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About Jann Blackstone

Jann BlackstoneDr. Jann Blackstone specializes in divorce, child custody, co-parenting, and stepfamily mediation and is often called the “Relationship Expert for Today’s Relationships” because of her “real life, down-to-earth” approach to relationship problem solving. She is the author of six books on divorce and parenting, the most popular, the Ex-etiquette series featuring Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation. She is also the author of the Ex-etiquette syndicated column and a frequent guest or consultant on television and radio talk shows, including Good Morning America (ABC), The Today Show (NBC), Keeping Kids Healthy (PBS), the Early Show (CBS), and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been the featured expert in many magazines, including, Child, Parents, Parenting, Newsweek, Family Circle, More, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, BRIDES, Woman’s Day, and Working Mother Magazine.

In 1999, Dr. Jann founded and became the first Director of Bonus Families®, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working to change the way society views stepfamilies by supplying up-to-date co-parenting information via its Web site, counseling, mediation, and a worldwide support group network. They prefer to use the word “bonus” to the word step. Step implies negative things; however, a “bonus” is a reward for a job well done. “Bonus…a step in the right direction.”

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