Parents holding the arms of their daughter appearing to fight over custody


E. Gordon Peters, Jr Oct. 19, 2020

If you’re a single parent, you’re not alone. According to the US Census Bureau, there are around 13.7 million single parents in the United States raising approximately 22.4 million children. It’s not an easy job and it requires sacrifice, dedication, and stability.

But life is full of change. You may find yourself in a new situation that requires you to relocate or amend your day-to-day schedule. This can be difficult to navigate when children are involved, and even more so when you have an existing parenting plan in place that you need to abide by.

The good news is that, with the help of E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, you can make the necessary updates to your parenting plan that will meet the needs of both you and your child’s other parent. Gordon has extensive knowledge of Virginia family law and offers the guidance and advocacy you need. Contact E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law today for a consultation. He proudly serves clients in Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia, as well as the surrounding communities.

Can Parenting Plans be Modified?

You may be wondering if parenting plans can even be modified. The answer is — yes. However, there are two requirements that must be met for you to reach modification eligibility:

  • There has been a substantial change in the circumstances regarding your child

  • A change in the custody arrangement would in the best interest of your child

A “substantial change” could be, for example, the development of health issues for one parent, or a change in one parent’s working hours. It could also refer to an improvement in your situation that would strengthen your ability to care for your child thereby making more parenting time an option. Once you have established that substantial change has taken place, the court will examine if the proposed changes are in the best interest of your child.

Relocation Considerations

A common scenario that divorced parents encounter is the need to relocate. When dealing with a possible relocation in regards to your child custody arrangement, you will need to tell both the court and the other parent at least 30 days in advance,

If the other parent disagrees with your relocation plan, then you will need to gain court approval. The court will take into account whether or not the move is in the child’s best interest, and administer the appropriate court order after doing so.

How is the Best Interest of your Child Determined?

The following considerations are taken into account when determining what is best for your child as you modify your parenting plan:

  • Age, physical, and mental condition of the child, and each parent

  • The existing relationship between each parent and the child

  • The needs of the child

  • The role that each parent has and will play in the upbringing of the child

  • The propensity of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent

  • Willingness and ability of each parent to maintain a relationship with the child

  • The reasonable preference of the child

  • Any history of family abuse

  • Other factors that the court may deem necessary to consider

The court will consider all of these factors when determining whether or not your proposed changes to the parenting plan will make a positive impact on your child’s life. A family law attorney can help you navigate this difficult situation and formulate a modification request that takes all parties into account.

How to Make a Modification

If both parents agree to the proposed modification, they can document the changes and submit the revised terms to the court for approval and implementation.

However, where the proposed modification is contested by the other parent, the final decision as to whether or not the modification is approved will be left up to the court. A family law attorney can help you to assess whether you have valid grounds for requesting the modification. Once that’s determined, your family law attorney will help you:

  1. File a “Motion to Amend or Review Order” with the court explaining the reason the modification is necessary.

  2. Attend the court hearing, wherein both parents of the child will have the opportunity to present their argument.

The judge will then rule as to whether or not the custody plan will be modified.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

As your attorney, Gordon will stand by your side each step of the way as you make the necessary updates to your parenting plan to reflect your life changes. He has the experience and resources necessary to fight for the best outcome for you and your family. Contact E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law today for a consultation. He represents clients from Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia, as well as the surrounding counties of Amherst, Campbell, Bedford, Nottoway, Prince Edward, and Charlotte.