In order to modify a parenting plan, a parent must first prove a material change of circumstances affecting the child that was not reasonably foreseeable at the time the parenting plan was established. Only then does the parenting plan get reopened and the inquiry turns to the child’s best interests.
In the recent opinion in Pace v. Pace, the Court of Appeals provides guidance about what does and does not constitute a material change:
- The fact that Mother deviated from the parenting plan to allow Father more time with Child did not constitute a material change absent proof that the deviation worked to the benefit or detriment of Child.
- A parent’s admitted drug use is not a material change absent evidence of Child’s location during the drug use or any effect the parent’s drug use had on Child.
- Changes in Child’s age, standing alone, is not a material change absent proof of age-related changes in Child’s needs.
The theme is clear: a material change must be one that affects the child is some meaningful way.
Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.