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When can you modify a custody decree or parenting plan?

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2021 | Family Law |

Sometimes a parenting plan that was executed when your child was young is simply no longer feasible. Your child may have grown; after all, the needs of a toddler are different from the needs of a teenager. You or your child’s other parent may have moved making child custody exchanges more difficult. Or you or your child’s other parent could experience a significant health issue that makes it impossible to adhere to your current parenting plan. When this happens, you may want to seek a modification of your prior child custody decree or parenting plan.

When can a parenting plan be modified under Washington law?

Under Washington law, a court can only modify a custody decree or parenting plan if facts have arisen that could not have been anticipated at the time the prior decree or parenting plan was established or if there was a substantial change in circumstances that makes modifying the child custody decree or parenting plan in the child’s best interests. The child’s living arrangements will not be changed unless the child’s parents agree to modify them, the child has been integrated into the petitioner’s family with the other parent’s consent or if the child’s current living arrangements are detrimental to their health.

Modifications due to parental relocation

Sometimes a custodial parent wants to move away with the child, perhaps due to a new job opportunity or to be closer to family and thus wants the current child custody decree or parenting plan modified. If so, there is a rebuttable presumption that the relocation will be allowed. However, the non-moving parent can object by showing that the detrimental effect of the move is greater than the benefits the move would provide the child and relocating parent.

Learn more about child custody in Washington State

Child custody modifications can have a significant impact on the child and both parents and must be handled carefully, always with the child’s best interests in mind. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. We encourage readers to explore our firm’s website on child custody to gain a better understanding of their rights and options.