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Modifications of Parenting Plans & Child Support Lawyers In Vancouver

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After a divorce is settled, a family’s needs can evolve due to life transitions that make a parenting plan or child support order unworkable. While it is possible to seek modifications, it takes a skilled family law attorney to protect your parental rights. At Cohen Family Law, LLC, our Clark County parenting plan and child support lawyers are equipped with the knowledge and experience to help you obtain or prevent a change to your parenting plan or child support order. Call (360) 953-5000 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

Why Choose Cohen Family Law, LLC?

  • Our team has more than 25 years of combined experience and is well-versed in state laws governing parenting plans and child support orders, as well as the rules on modifications.
  • We will work closely with you to find a solution that is in the best interests of you and your child.
  • We pride ourselves on being responsive to clients and giving them the information they need to make informed decisions in their cases and have peace of mind.

How a Parenting Plan and Child Support Lawyer Can Help

A parenting plan and child support attorney can advise you on whether your change in circumstance warrants a modification, walk you through the process of filing for a modification, and represent you in conciliation conferences and court hearings. An attorney knows the rules and procedures required under state law and can save you a lot of time and frustration if you must file for a modification.

If you and your former partner cannot agree to proposed changes in a conciliation conference (similar to mediation), the matter will have to be decided by a judge. Successfully convincing a court to change an existing parenting plan or child support order will depend on the legal arguments of your case. Having an experienced parenting plan and child support attorney by your side to ensure that the details of your case are argued appropriately is vital to your success.

When You Might Need to Modify a Parenting Plan or Child Support Order

You may need to modify a court order if:

  • One parent plans to relocate.
  • One parent is unable to care for the child for the time being.
  • One parent is not cooperating with the current visitation schedule.
  • A parent feels that the other parent is putting the child in danger.
  • One parent is being deployed.
  • One parent is going to jail or prison.
  • A parent dies.
  • A child contracted an illness and needs extensive medical care.
  • A parent gets a new or additional job.
  • A parent is laid off or fired from their job.
  • A parent’s income increases or decreases.
  • The family size changes.

Before initiating a modification to a parenting plan, the parents should try to communicate and work out a mutually acceptable agreement. However, it is best to have the change legally approved to ensure the agreement is enforceable later. Although the court process can be time-consuming and a headache, you and your children will have legal protection available if your former partner breaks your oral agreement.

How to Modify a Parenting Plan

To modify a parenting plan, you must convince a judge that there has been a substantial change. The parent seeking a modification must file legal forms with the court in Washington, including a “Petition for Modification of Adjustment of Child Custody Decree/Parenting Plan.” The parent must specify the modifications they are seeking, the substantial change that has occurred since the original parenting plan was entered, and how it is in the child’s best interests.

A judge will schedule a hearing to determine if there is adequate cause to change custody terms. In an “adequate cause hearing,” also known as a “threshold hearing,” a judge will hear the parent’s case who is requesting a modification. Both parents will have the opportunity to present evidence that either supports or opposes the proposed changes. The judge will follow the principle of what is in the child’s best interests, as well as consider the following:

  • Whether both parents agree to the modifications.
  • How the child has integrated into the family of the parent requesting the change.
  • Whether the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health is in danger in their current home environment.
  • If the proposed changes are in the child’s best interests.
  • Has either parent failed to comply with the current parenting plan at least twice within three years?
  • Has either parent interfered with the other parent’s custody or visitation rights?

If the judge finds that the advantages of a modification outweigh the negatives, they will probably allow it. If the parents can agree on the changes, presenting an “Agreed Order” will end the case. If they do not, the judge may grant the changes to be temporarily in place while the case proceeds mediation, and from there, either an agreement or a trial.

How to Modify a Child Support Order

To modify a child support order in Washington State, there are two ways you can proceed.

Motion for Adjustment of Child Support

Filing this motion is often a quicker and easier solution that typically only takes a single hearing to settle the matter. However, this motion can only be filed if it has been two years since the initial order and either your or your former spouse’s income has changed.

Petition to Modify Child Support Order

This petition can be filed if one year has passed since the initial order and the payments are causing you or your child severe financial hardship. Other reasons include your child turning 18 but is still finishing high school or if your economic circumstances have drastically changed.

If it has been less than a year since the initial child support order, you must prove to the court that there has been a significant change in your economic circumstances to warrant the requested modification.

The Hearing

After filing the appropriate legal forms with the court, the next step is serving the other parent a summons, a copy of the motion or petition, and the applicable worksheets. Once served, the other parent has 20 days to respond if they live in Washington or 60 days if they live outside the state. If there is no response, the court may rule in your favor by default.

If the other parent does respond, either party can schedule a hearing. The judge will hear arguments and evidence from both sides then make a ruling on the proposed modification.

We Are Here to Help

The processes for modifying a parenting plan or child support order are complicated. It is vital to your case’s success to have the strongest possible argument and the evidence to support it. Contact Cohen Family Law, LLC to discuss your legal options and how our parenting plan and child support lawyers can protect your rights. We offer free consultations; email us or call (360) 953-5000 today.

Clark County Modifications of Parenting Plans & Child Support Attorney

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