When parents separate or divorce, the court will issue a comprehensive parenting plan that addresses when the child spends time with each parent. As the child grows and situations change, one or both parents may seek a modification to the existing parenting plan. All modifications, whether they are major or minor, must be based on a substantial change in the circumstances. The change must have occurred since the last order was entered with the court. In order to be substantial, the change in circumstances should also be significant and unexpected. The proposed change to the parenting plan must be in the best interests of the child. The modification of a parenting plan generally falls into one of the following categories:
- The parents agree to change the parenting plan.
- The residential parent has willingly allowed a permanent deviation from the parenting plan and the child has become used to the new schedule.
- Some harm will result to the child if the parenting plan continues.
- The court has found one parent to be in contempt of court at least twice in three years for failing to follow the residential provisions of the court-ordered parenting plan, or the parent has been convicted of custodial interference in the first or second degree.
Minor adjustments to the parenting plan are easier to obtain. The requested modification is minor if there is no request to change the primary residential parent, the modification affects 24 overnights or less, or the current parenting plan does not allow enough time with the other parent and the requested change is less than 90 overnights a year. But there still must be a substantial change in circumstance and the change must be in the child’s best interests, so even this type of modification is not a slam dunk.
No matter what parenting plan modifications you are seeking, our Washington parenting plan attorneys can guide you through every step of the court proceedings necessary to modify the current custody and parenting plan. We are here to answer your questions, both now and in the future, about your custody and parenting plan case and the impact that contested legal proceedings will have on your family. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we have represented the interests of countless families throughout the legal process. Contact our office today at (509) 572-3700 or by e-mail at [email protected] and set up a time to talk about your case.