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Jennifer Tavana

My husband and I have been trying to cope with my stepson's mother's unwillingness to co-parent at any level. She has not been willing to discuss changing the 5 year old's schedule now that he is in school from switching every couple days to alternating weeks, will not discuss doctor visits or inform dad that she is taking him to the doctor, etc. They have joint legal/physical custody but she has more time with the child. They went through mediation last year and it was horrible. We are very hesitant to go to court because of our previous experiences in the 'system'. I have been looking for resources to help us deal with this situation so I am glad that this site is here. We've been very frustrated and feeling defeated, so it is refreshing to find a place where we might find some help. Thanks.

Jeanne M Hannah

Jennifer, you probably know that you cannot petition the court to modify the parenting time unless there is good cause or a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant reexamination of the previous custody/parenting time order. That's what is so significant about this case. Your fact pattern sounds very similar. You could show this article to the child's mother and suggest that it would be more expensive to do this in court, but that unless she agrees to change the parenting schedule to week on / week off, that's the only avenue that she would leave open to you.

Good luck. Jeanne M Hannah

Kelli Johnson

My son's father and I were never married and I have sole physical custody. We made a written agreement outside of court, there is no court order regarding this agreement. My son has had behavior changes and the plan was written wrong and my son is not at my home enough. I would like to change the plan and my attorney says I can change the agreement outside of court because it was done outside of court. Is this true?

Jeanne M Hannah

Certainly since the agreement was not incorporated into a court order, you might try changing it. However, anticipate that your son's father will go to court to establish custody and parenting time if you rock the boat. The agreement and proof of what kind of parenting time he has may convince the court that the established custodial environment is with him, not you. Any custody/parenting time order the court decides to enter may be no better or worse than what you are now doing.

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