In Washington State, a parent with a final parenting plan can modify the existing plan either by agreement or by petitioning the Court.
Modification by agreement can be achieved in several different ways; directly between the parties, through counsel, or even with a mediator in a formal setting. Consulting with an attorney is always advisable, especially with drafting of a new parenting plan.
Petitioning the Court can be complex, time consuming, and costly. This process begins by one party filing a petition for modification and a proposed parenting plan. Then the opposing party must be served through valid service. Again, speaking with an attorney prior to beginning this process is not necessary but strongly recommended. There is a strong presumption against modifying a parenting plan, the Court will consider any change as a disruption to the children. This is a presumption that must be overcome.
Before the case can move forward, adequate cause must be found, along with other requirements. This means the person who filed the case must set forth specific factual allegations that, if proven, would permit a court to modify the plan.
Typically, the other parent will have 20 days to respond to the petition. A temporary parenting plan cannot be entered until after this time period has passed, unless there is an emergency.
After a response has been filed and temporary orders entered, discovery, mediation, and other required actions must be taken prior to trial.