If you are a parent in Washington State, modifying your parenting plan can be complicated and daunting. Whether you want to adjust the amount of time each parent spends with the child or change visitation schedules, there are critical steps you need to take to modify your existing parenting plan.
Without the necessary information and proper guidance, it can be challenging to determine the best path forward. The following piece outlines everything you need to know about modifying a parenting plan in Washington State. It covers who can modify a plan, what changes are allowed, and how to file the paperwork.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a document outlining how parents will co-parent and decide their child’s upbringing that is legally bound. This can include the time each parent spends with the child, how decisions are made about education and health care, and any other matters related to parenting. The plan also outlines dispute resolutions and how the parents communicate. It is important to note that a parenting plan cannot be changed without the agreement of both parents.
Who Can Modify a Parenting Plan in Washington?
In Washington, any parent can file a petition to modify their parenting plan. The other parent must be notified of the petition, and both parents must agree on any changes. If the parents can’t agree, either parent may file a motion to modify the plan with the court. Therefore, both parents must comply with the court’s orders and any changes to the parenting plan.
6 Simple Steps to Modify Parenting Plan in Washington State?
There are legal and practical steps to follow if you want to modify your parenting plans in Washington State. Here are the six simple steps you should follow:
Step 1: Understand the Grounds for Seeking Modification of Your Parenting Plan
The first step is to determine if there are grounds for seeking modification of your co-parenting plan. Generally, the court will grant a modification if either parent demonstrates that there has been a significant change in circumstances. According to Washington State law, parenting plans can be modified in the following cases:
- The child is at least six years old and wants to spend more time with a particular parent
- One parent has moved out of the area
- One parent has had a drastic change in lifestyle or work schedule
- The child’s medical or educational needs have changed
- There is a threat of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse to the child or either parent
Step 2: Talk to Your Former Partner
Once you have determined that there are grounds for a plan modification, it’s essential to talk to your former partner about the changes you’d like to make. This can be a difficult conversation, but it is vital to reaching an agreement between both parties.
Step 3: Prepare for Court
If you and your former partner cannot reach an agreement, the next step is to prepare for court. This will involve gathering relevant documents, such as financial statements and medical records, to support your case. You may also want to seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in family law.
Step 4: File a Motion to Modify the Parenting Plan
Once you have all the necessary documents, you can file a motion to modify the plan. It is typically done by submitting the required paperwork to the court clerk. The court clerk will assign a hearing date, and both parents must attend.
Step 5: Attend the Court Hearing
At the court hearing, you can explain to the judge why you believe modifying your co-parenting plan is necessary. The judge may also ask questions to both parties before making their final decision.
Step 6: Comply with the Court’s Decision
Once a court has reached a decision, both parents must comply with its orders. It includes changes made to the co-parenting plan and any other conditions imposed by the judge. It is important to note that if either parent fails to comply with the court’s decision, they may be held in contempt of court.
Modifying a parenting plan in Washington State is not easy, but it is possible. If you believe the current plan is not serving your child’s best interests, it is essential to consider taking legal action. At Cowlitz Law Group, PLLC, we are experienced in family law and can help guide you through modifying your parenting plan. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your legal rights and have the knowledge and experience to help you reach a suitable solution. Contact us today to discuss your case and get the help you need.