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Responding to a Motion Regarding Parenting Time

Contents

    A Motion Regarding Parenting Time is used to ask a judge to change parenting time. If your child’s other parent files this motion, you have a chance to respond.

    Who Can Ask to Change Parenting Time?

    Either parent can ask the judge to change parenting time in an existing family law case by filing a motion to change parenting time. It could be a divorce, separate maintenance, custody, paternity, or family support case, but there must already be a custody order or judgment in the case.

    The parent who files the motion is the “moving party.” The moving party can be the plaintiff or defendant in the family law case.

    If you and the other parent agree about changing parenting time, you can ask the judge to sign a proposed order without filing a motion and without having a court hearing.

    When Can a Parent Ask to Change Parenting Time?

    There must be proper cause or a change in circumstances for the judge to reconsider parenting time. What qualifies as proper cause or a change in circumstances differs depending on the kind of change someone asks for. If a parent is actually trying to change custody instead of parenting time, it will be harder to prove than if they are asking for a smaller change. To learn more, read How a Judge Decides a Motion to Change Parenting Time.

    What Can I Do If I Get a Motion Regarding Parenting Time?

    Read the Papers Carefully

    If you were served with a Motion Regarding Parenting Time, read it right away. It is important to understand what the other party is asking the judge to do. It is also important to know the date, time, and place of the hearing.

    Decide How You Want to Respond

    If your child’s other parent files a motion to change parenting time, you have three choices:

    • File a written response and participate in the hearing

    • Only participate in the hearing or

    • Do nothing

    To give the judge a chance to read and understand your position before the hearing, it is a good idea to both file a written response and go to the hearing. You may want to respond to the motion even if you agree with the change in parenting time.

    If you don’t file a response, you can still participate in the court hearing. It is important to attend the hearing so you can answer any questions the judge has. If you do not attend the hearing on time and there is proof in the court file that you were served, the judge may hold the hearing without you. This means the judge can change parenting time without your input.

    Pay Attention to Deadlines

    Court cases have strict deadlines. If you decide to file a written response to the Motion Regarding Parenting Time, you must file it with the court at least three days before the hearing. You must mail it to the other party at least five days before the hearing, or give it to them in person at least three days before the hearing.

    How Do I File a Response?

    You can use the Do-It-Yourself Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time to create the forms you need. You will get a chance to say whether you agree to the parenting time change in the other parent’s motion. If you don’t agree, you can say what you would like the judge to order instead. If you do not agree with the other parent’s request, you will also be able to explain why you think the proposed change would not be in the child’s best interests.

    Once you have your Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time form, date and sign it. Make several copies and take it to the court clerk’s office to file. Mail the other parent a copy. If the other parent has a lawyer, mail the Response to the lawyer instead of the other parent.

    For more detailed instructions, read the checklist that applies to you in the toolkit I Need to Change Parenting Time.

    What Happens Next?

    Court Process

    If you and the other parent disagree about parenting time, you may meet with the Friend of the Court first or have a hearing in front of a judge or referee, depending on your county. At the meeting or hearing, you and the other party will each have a chance to say why you think parenting time should be changed or left the same. Bring any documents that support your claims.

    If you meet with a Friend of the Court worker, he or she will likely make a recommendation to the judge about whether to change parenting time.

    If you have a hearing in front of a judge, the judge may decide whether to change parenting time at or after the hearing. Or the judge may refer the motion to a Friend of the Court referee, who will hold a less formal hearing and prepare a recommended order for the judge.

    Either a judge or referee may refer the motion to the Friend of the Court for an investigation and recommendation. If the Friend of the Court makes a recommendation in your case, or if a referee makes a recommended order, the judge will consider it. Either type of recommendation can become a final order in your case, but you will have a chance to object to it before that can happen.

    The Friend of the Court process varies widely by county. To learn more about Friend of the Court, read Friend of the Court Overview.

    How the Judge Decides

    To learn about what the judge will consider, read How a Judge Decides a Motion to Change Parenting Time.

    Child Support

    If the parenting time order changes the number of overnights you have with your child, it may also affect child support. Child support is calculated using many factors, including the number of overnights each parent spends with the child. To learn more about how child support is calculated, read Child Support in a Nutshell.

    What Do I Say in My Court Papers and at My Hearing?

    The Do-It-Yourself Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time will help you prepare your forms and guide you through what to say. For example, you will say whether you agree with the other parent’s motion, and why. If you disagree, you will explain why you think it is against the best interests of your child to change parenting time.

    At your hearing or a meeting with the Friend of the Court, you will want to explain the same things that you say in your response. You will also have the chance to present evidence that supports what you say.

    Changing parenting time can be complicated, especially if it would affect custody. If you want to contact a lawyer in your county, use Find a Lawyer. If you are low-income, you may qualify for free legal help.