Most Oregonians accept the premise that life is unpredictable, and many of these same people understand that life after a divorce can be extremely unpredictable. The unpredictability factor rises sharply for a divorced couple with young children. A couple may have tried in good faith to negotiate a parenting plan that serves their individual interests and the interests of their minor children. And then something happens…
Perhaps one parent contracts a serious illness that interferes with that parent’s ability to meet obligations under the parenting plan. Or perhaps one parent finds a new job outside Oregon and wants to move. Or, in the most dire circumstance of all, a parent who had abused one or more of the children during the marriage cannot or refuses to abide by the promise that was made to stop the abuse. The solution in these and in many other cases where circumstances that affect one or both parents’ ability to render proper care change unexpectedly is a motion to amend the parenting plan.
Oregon judges will consider amending a parenting plan if one party can demonstrate that circumstances affecting a parent and the child have changed significantly. The parent that wants to amend the plan must either persuade the other parent to submit a joint amendment to the plan to the court or must bring a motion before a judge in the county where the couple resided when the divorce became effective. If the dispute goes to court, the party bringing the motion, referred to as the petitioner, must demonstrate that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the last order or amendment to an order was entered. The petitioner must also prove that the requested change will serve the best interests of the child. If the court agrees, a new order will be entered containing the requested changes.
Because requests to change a parenting plan almost always involve court appearances, anyone considering asking for such a change may wish to consult an experienced family lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer can assemble the necessary evidence and present it to the court. In the event that the motion is denied, the lawyer can provide valuable advice about the wisdom of taking an appeal.