Child custody arrangements allow parents to share parenting responsibilities and privileges. But when the plan is no longer favorable, modifications are allowed. However, the grounds for altering the original plan are strict and specific.

The court only allows a parent to alter a parenting plan if necessary. Evidence of the adverse effects of the current arrangement might be required. Family lawyers in the Tri-Cities area can evaluate clients’ concerns, assess the need for changes, and help gather proof.

What Kinds of Custody Modifications Are Allowed in Washington State?

Changes to a current parenting plan in Washington State are classified as either major or minor modifications. Minor modifications require a parent to show substantial change. In contrast, major modifications require proof of a significant shift in circumstances.

Changing a child’s custody can significantly disrupt them, and the court only allows it in limited situations. You need to show that:

  • There have been substantial changes
  • The changes were unforeseeable
  • The modifications are necessary for the child’s well-being

Child neglect is a big deal and might warrant a modification. But first, speak to an attorney in the Tri-Cities for a review of the circumstances and guidance on filing.

How Do I Gather Evidence of Child Neglect Against My Ex Spouse?

The legal definition of child neglect and child abuse in Washington State covers:

  • Maltreatment
  • Negligent treatment
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Sexual abuse
  • Injury

Signs of neglect and abuse in a child are easily noticeable, and can be used to petition for modifications. Here is how it can manifest:

  • The child doesn’t want to go to the other parent
  • They are withdrawn, passive, or overly compliant
  • They are always watchful, like they are expecting something wrong to happen
  • They are having difficulties concentrating or learning in school
  • They haven’t received any medical help for a noticeable issue
  • Sudden changes in school performance or physical behavior

A parent could possibly be neglecting a child if:

  • They have a history of abuse as a child
  • They show little concern for the child
  • They use harsh physical discipline with the child
  • They describe the child in very negative ways
  • They cannot explain the child’s injury, or if they offer conflicting or unconvincing explanations

You might also notice that the child and the other parent rarely touch or look at each other. The negative attitude towards each other might also be unnoticeable.

How Important Is It to Report Child Neglect?

Reporting neglect is a great way to save them from further suffering or imminent harm. Additionally, it might be one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for your custody modification case. When calling the child protective services, they might ask you to provide information on:

  • The child’s name, age, and address
  • The other parent’s name and address
  • The extent and nature of the neglect
  • Any evidence of previous occurrences
  • Any other helpful information

Notably, every locality has a number to call and report neglect or abuse. The numbers are toll-free, and someone is always available to speak to any time. After that, talk to a Tri-Cities child custody lawyer about filing for custody modification as soon as possible.

What Happens After Reporting My Child’s Neglect?

Once you report your concerns, the child protective services evaluate your statements to ensure that it meets the definition of child neglect before they act. They might consider rescuing the child from further neglect by taking them to temporary foster care or another relative.

After that, the Child’s Welfare Services could do thorough investigations to substantiate the need for a custody change. If they find a valid concern, they could obtain temporary custody orders while the court considers a permanent arrangement best for the minor.

Where Should I Apply for Custody Modifications After Divorce?

If either you or your co-parent still lives in Washington State, you can apply for child custody modification in the state. However, your application should be presented in the court that gave the final divorce and child custody decree.

But if both parents and the child no longer live in Washington state, the rules might be different. A Tri-Cities child custody lawyer can guide you on applying for modifications in the most convenient way.

How Does the Court Establish an Unfit Parent After Divorce?

Family courts often utilize the services of a custody evaluator to determine the fitness of a parent accused of neglect. While child welfare services officers investigate conditions in the child’s home, an evaluator goes further. They could:

  • Interview involved professionals like doctors and teacher
  • Interview parents
  • Interview children
  • Observe the child/parent interactions
  • Review medical records and court documents
  • Conduct psychological testing on the parents

After the evaluations, the custody evaluator presents a report to the court to aid with decision-making. The court might modify the original parenting plan to protect the child and ensure that they thrive in a healthy environment.

When Does the Court Grant Full Custody?

The court decision varies based on the circumstances and the child’s needs. Your co-parent could lose custody of the child and only get visitation rights. The visitation could be supervised if there are concerns regarding the child’s safety.

In extreme neglect cases, the parent might lose all their parental rights and responsibilities. A child custody attorney in Tri-Cities can represent your interests and ensure that your rights are not infringed.

Compassionate Lawyers Helping Parents Pursue a Bright Future for their Children

A child’s upbringing determines the kind of adults they grow up to be. And if your child is neglected, they might have problems that might take a long time to heal from. Your desire to save your child from the inadequacies of the other parent could be futile if you don’t do it right.

The Pacific Northwest Family Law attorneys can work closely with you without taking the “one-size-fits-all” approach. We can represent you and give your case the best possible outcome. Talk to us to acquire a legal expert that can go the extra mile.