When you got divorced, you and your former spouse entered into a child custody agreement that you felt would work well for your family. However, like other Washington families in your situation, you realize that plan no longer works.
Perhaps the parenting plan you agreed to worked well for a toddler or young school-age child, but now that he or she is older, you need to change the plan to better accommodate an older child. Maybe you or the other parent changed jobs and working now interferes with parenting time. While these are certainly reasons to review and reconsider your existing agreement, there are other circumstances commonly seen in courtrooms.
Why would you need to change our custody arrangement?
It's probably safe to say that any family law judge with a substantial amount of time on the bench has seen it all when it comes to custody issues. The details may change, but they often see the same scenarios when it comes to parents requesting a custody modification, including those listed below:
- You or the other parent wants to relocate with the children. You can't simply move without the court's approval and the other parent's consent since your children deserve to have access to both parents.
- People change, and the other parent may no longer be the loving parent he or she was when you divorced. If you, and/or your children, believe they are in danger when with the other parent, you shouldn't hesitate to petition the court for a modification.
- If the other parent isn't following the agreed upon visitation schedule, you may need to modify it. Even if he or she isn't willfully ignoring the current agreement, making a change could rectify the problem.
- Sadly, the custodial parent could pass away. If you are the non-custodial parent, you will probably need the court's permission to step into that role.
As was the case when the court approved your original custody agreement, the judge will want to make sure that any modification serves the best interests of your children. Even if you and your ex come to an agreement on your own, you will need the court's approval, which only comes after you show the judge that the changes you want to make are needed and benefit your children.