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Family law: Court will consider custody modification petitions

Sometimes, changing circumstances can cause carefully worked out child custody plans to become ineffective. For that reason, family law allows parents to petition the court for modification of child custody orders. Parents whose relationship remains amicable could even negotiate changes, and then present the proposed alterations to a Washington court for approval -- as long as they are in the best interest of the child involved.

Before the court changes the custody orders, the parents would have to justify the reasons for the request because it will not make changes that will unnecessarily upset the child's well-being and his or her way of life. Valid reasons for modification requests might include threats to the child's safety due to domestic violence. The court will examine the circumstances at the child's home, and if he or she is old enough to express the wish to be removed from dangerous surroundings, it will likely be enough motivation.

Parental relocation might be another reason for a modification request. However, before modifying child custody or parenting plans, the court will scrutinize the reasons for a parent's relocation, and the level of disruption to the child's life. It will also expect the parents to communicate and rework the parenting and visitation schedule. In cases in which one parent refuses or fails to comply with the custody arrangements on the current order, the court might also consider modifications.

Any parent in Washington who finds it necessary to file a petition for child custody modification might find the prospect daunting. However, the entire process could be simplified by the support and guidance that an experienced family law attorney can provide. A lawyer can explain the legalities, and assist with negotiations for new arrangements before advocating for the client in the court.

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