Through the divorce process, parents strive to craft a document that meets the best interests of the child while accounting for the needs and limitations of each parent. This parenting time agreement or parenting plan often covers a broad range of information from custody exchanges and holiday schedules to travel requirements and communication preferences. Unfortunately, while great care goes into the creation of this document, significant life events necessitate revisions.
Many divorced parents feel modifications are necessary due to changing circumstances at their job. From promotions and demotions to a shift change and relocation, occupational responsibilities are often the primary factor in many parents’ lives. A dramatic change in these circumstances forces many parents to restructure significant portions of their lives.
How do Ohio courts see parenting time modifications?
The central feature in most post-decree modification decisions is what is in the best interests of the children. While this is a broad concept, in general, the focus rests on how the new circumstances affect the children – and, in turn, how a modification will affect them. While a changing work schedule is not often on the primary list of reasons for revisions, a parent can make the argument that the parenting time modification clearly benefits the children.
- Has the change in work schedule caused undue pressure on the original parenting time agreement?
- Is the child expressing stress or emotional strain as a result of the new work schedule?
- Has the change in work schedule led to a necessary reduction in time spent with the child?
- Does the change in work schedule run contrary to the agreed-upon holiday and vacation schedules?
The court will examine these and many other questions when determining whether a modification is warranted.
Do not rely on verbal agreements
Many marriages end on good terms and the parents continue to have pleasant conversations with each other even as they embark on their exciting, independent futures. These parents might believe they can reach a resolution to a modification issue on their own. They choose to negotiate a compromise themselves and move forward outside the legal process. While this might seem like an efficient, time-saving endeavor, verbal agreements hold no weight in the legal system. If something goes wrong, there are no protections in place to enforce the agreement or penalize wanton disregard. It is wise to make any modifications through the legal process.