A lot of time and effort by both parents is needed to create a parenting plan that will work best for the parents and the children. The goal should always be to establish a parenting plan that will work for the immediate situation and in the future. However, as we all know, it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen in the future. Many things can change in a person’s life from year to year, not to mention what can change when you are dealing with multiple people in different households. People can change jobs, move into a different home, get married or remarried, have additional children or new step children, etc. The possibilities are endless. The New Hampshire Legislature, knowing that changes occur in everyone’s lives, has made it possible for parents to modify their parenting rights and responsibilities according to the NH Revised Statute 461-A:11-Modification of Parental Rights and Responsibilities.
Currently under RSA 461-A:11 there are nine ways in which a parenting plan can be modified:
- By agreement. If the parties agree to the modification then the court may grant the modification;
- If the parent with the residential responsibility continuously interferes with the other parent’s parenting time without having warranted reasons to interfere and the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child to have parenting time with the other parent, the modification can be granted;
- If the child’s current environment, by clear and convincing evidence, is detrimental to the child’s emotional, physical and mental well-being and it would be detrimental to the child not to have the modification than a modification can be granted;
- If there is roughly equal residential responsibility between the two parties and it does not seem to be working, then a modification can be granted in the best interest of the child;
- If the minor child is determined to be a mature minor by clear and convincing evidence then the opinion of the mature minor of where he or she wants to reside will be taken into consideration. The court would also take into consideration any factors that they believe would influence the mature minor’s decision; and
- If the change will be minimal or there would be no change at all to the allocation of parenting time and it was in the best interest of the child to have the modification.
- Travel Distance: if the allocation of parenting time was due to the distance between the two parents homes and that has now changed (either further or closer to each other) then if the current order is not in the best interest of the child a modification can be ordered;
- Work Schedule: if the existing order was based on one or both parents working hours and that has now changed making the existing order not in the best interest of the child then a modification can be ordered; and
- Age of Child: if the existing allocation or schedule was based on the young age of the child, making the schedule outlined no longer feasible, it has been more than five years since the prior order and it is in the best interest of the child then a modification can be ordered.
While the information needed to modify your parental rights and responsibilities as outlined above seems to allow the parents to modify the parenting plan due to a variety of changed circumstances, it should be noted that the person seeking a modification has the burden of proof and must demonstrate, through testimony and other evidence, that any proposed change meets one or more of the above requirements. While some of the reasons to modify seem straight forward, others are vague on the exact details that need to be presented to the Court when asking for a modification. Even the straight forward criteria set forth above, requires the parent seeking a modification to prove that any change is in the best interests of the child(ren).
When seeking a review and modification of an existing Parenting Plan, it is important that you seek the assistance of an attorney who is well versed with respect to what the Court needs in order to issue an order modifying an existing plan. The Law of Shaunna L. Browne, PLLC, has several attorneys and an excellent staff ready and willing to provide you with the legal assistance that you will need in order to seek and obtain a modification of an existing Parenting Plan in New Hampshire. Call today for your free initial telephone consultation.