The adversary proceeding is over. The divorce or parentage action is final and you and your ex-spouse are moving on with your new lives. Then, there is a change in circumstances that makes the existing parenting plan unworkable.
If this has happened to you, you can go back to court and ask for a modification of the orders. Even if your spouse agrees to the changes, it is best to put it in writing and have it approved by the court. Courts are hesitant to disrupt parenting plans once they are in place. You should contact an experienced family law attorney to help you with this process.
James Pleasants P.C. will help with your parenting plan modifications
In the state of Washington, there is a specific statute that the court must follow when dealing with a request for modification of a parenting plan. At the offices of James Pleasants P.C. we have 35 years of experience representing parents in family law court and are intimately familiar with the law.
The first step is to petition the court for a modification of the parenting plan, whether the requested modification is for child support, visitation or child custody. The written petition must be filed in superior court.
The parent who is not petitioning the court for the modification may either agree with the changes or oppose them. If the requested modification is opposed, the court will hold what is called an “Adequate Cause” hearing where evidence can be presented by both parents.
Although the process may seem cumbersome, it is designed to prevent one parent from harassing the other with constant requests for modification of the parenting plan. The standard the court will use in deciding whether or not to grant the modification request is: 1) whether there has been a change in circumstances sufficient to justify modification; and, 2) will the modification be in the best interest of the children.
Modifications due to change in circumstances
The need for modification of a court ordered parenting plan may arise in the following situations.
- Child support: The needs of the children may have changed or the financial situation of one of the parents has changed. The standard for change in circumstances means a change over which the party had no control. We will work with you and the court within the framework of the statutory requirement and make sure you are not paying too much or receiving too little in child support.
- Visitation and time sharing: As children get older, their needs change. What worked for them originally may need to be adjusted to accommodate their changing needs.
Child custody: This usually requires an unexpected change in the life of either the parents or children that appears to the court to be permanent and the change will be in the best interest of the children. Custody changes are not made lightly and require strong justification.