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When Things Change - Part III: Parenting

July 8, 2015  | 
When Things Change Part III - Parenting by Clare Piro

{3:24 minutes to read} Depending on your situation, resolving your parenting plan can be the simplest or most difficult part of your mediation.

  • I have had clients who spoke about it in advance of the meeting, and but for a few minor points, had it all resolved.

  • I’ve also had clients who spent several meetings to achieve a plan that they both could agree was the best for their family.

  • Most of my clients, however, will spend one entire meeting on resolving parenting issues.

However long it takes, it should be recognized as something that is subject to change.

I’m not talking about the minor changes that can arise as your 6-year-old becomes older and develops a life of her own, rendering your carefully planned access schedule subject to her activities and developing social life. Hopefully, as parents, you can work the scheduling issues out between you.

I’m talking about major things that can require an amendment to your agreement such as:

  • A need to relocate out of the area (as discussed in an earlier post);

  • A child’s desire to spend more time with a parent;

  • A change of work hours for a parent; or,

  • One or both parents believing that the plan is not working for them or the children.

To some extent, these possibilities might be addressed and agreed upon in the original mediation if there is a very young child, or if one or both parents feel that such a change is on the horizon. In most cases, however, it is not worth taking the time to explore and agree upon these potential circumstances, except to discuss in general terms the process the parties would want to follow if anything like this did happen.

  • If the parents can reach an agreement, they may consider getting input from the children through the use of a child specialist or a parenting coordinator.

  • Before committing to major change, the parents may, if practical, want to have a trial period to see if the change is in the best interest of the children.

  • Parents may also decide to incorporate any changes, such as a transition to equal parenting time with the children, slowly, inviting the children’s feedback so they feel heard and recognized.

If the parents ultimately agree to a major change in their parenting plan, it should be made in writing as an amendment to their Separation Agreement. In New York, that amendment should be incorporated into an Amended Judgment of Divorce.

Have the needs of your children changed over the years since your divorce? How did you accommodate those changes in your Settlement Agreement?

 
Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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