How Do I Get a Parenting Plan Modification in Washington State?

Obtaining a parenting plan modification in Washington State is required if a parent wants to change the current parenting plan order. There are two types of modifications that can be sought, a minor or major modification.  Which one to seek depends on the legal reasons for seeking a modification and the extent of the change requested.

Parenting Plan Modifications – Minor vs. Major Modifications

A minor adjustment to a parenting plan is known as a minor modification.  Absent agreement, to get a minor modification in Washington requires showing a substantial change in circumstances of either parent or of the child. In King County child custody modification cases, a parent must prove the substantial change to show “adequate cause” for the modification in a preliminary “adequate cause” hearing unless the other parent agrees.

Major modifications to a parenting plan are requests for significant changes to the parenting plan including requests to change the custodial (primary) parent. Custodial changes are viewed as highly disruptive to children, and the court allows major modification only in limited circumstances.  A parent must prove an unforeseen substantial change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the other parent, and the change to the parenting plan is necessary to serve the child’s best interests.

Parenting Plan Modification Examples:

Some examples of circumstances that may justify a minor modification include:

  • You move locally (for example, a move from Bellevue to Tacoma).
  • Your work schedule requires more travel time.
  • You are the custodial (primary) parent and the non-custodial parent has not exercised his residential time for one year or longer.

Some examples of circumstances to request a major modification include:

  • You suspect the other parent of abuse or willful neglect of the child and you have documented evidence of this. This may include criminal activity or not, for example, a charged DUI with a child in the vehicle may be sufficient in some circumstances to meet the high standard.
  • You or the other parent seeks to relocate to another state or country.
  • One parent has been held in contempt twice within the past three years for violating the residential schedule of a parenting plan.

Contested Child Custody Modifications

Contested high conflict child custody modifications can become difficult, emotionally volatile, and fraught with allegations of abuse, parenting alienation, domestic violence, and alcohol or drug abuse. They are challenging legal cases that we are very accustomed to resolving.

We will review the facts of your case and advise if resolution can be reached through less adversarial options. If not, we will aggressively and effectively represent your interests knowing that our work will assure your child’s best interests are met.