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Modifications of Parenting Plan and Child Support Orders

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  Benjamin Franklin’s words to address the uncertainties over the proposed Constitution in 1789 are equally applicable to modern-day court orders addressing children’s needs. Whether it be the parenting plan or a child support, parents may need to update these orders from time to time to reflect what is happening in their lives. Changes to employment or income, the remarriage or  relocation by a parent, and a child’s development can all necessitate a change to a parenting plan or child support order.

Typically, child support orders can be revisited once every two years or upon a substantial change in the circumstances, such as loss of employment or disability of a parent.  Changing a parenting plan can be more difficult because of the presumption in favor of “custodial continuity” in Washington. In either case, having experienced legal counsel to guide you through petitioning the court for a change is invaluable. Whether you believe there is a need to change an order concerning your child(ren) or you have been served with a petition to change an order, call me immediately at 360-787-2424 or contact me online to schedule a consultation to get the information you need for your next steps.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What needs to happen before I can change my child’s parenting plan?   A petition for a “minor” modification or “adjustment” in the parenting plan, most commonly arising from changes in the parties’ work schedules, are fairly straight forward. A petition for a “major” modification (e.g., where one parent is seeking to change the primary residence of the child(ren) or where there will be a change of more than twenty overnights in a year) can be difficult to win in the absence of the agreement of the parties. Washington state has a strong presumption in favor of custodial continuity and changes to a parenting plan are generally disfavored in the absence of a showing a substantial changes in the circumstances of the child(ren) or either parent since the last parenting plan was entered.  RCW 26.09.260(2) sets forth the four basic ways by which a “major modification” of a parenting plan can be obtained:

 . . . “the court shall retain the residential schedule established by the decree or parenting plan unless:

(a) The parents agree to the modification;

(b) The child has been integrated into the family of the petitioner with the consent of the other parent in substantial deviation from the parenting plan;

(c) The child’s present environment is detrimenta

  • "Clayton represented me in a very challenging case. Clearly outlying options and potential outcomes before proceeding, always affording me time to make my decisions. His firm was not after my money and charging me unnecessarily, but more driven to deliver the results. If you need sound legal advice or top-knotch representation- Spencer Law is where you should start your search." - Paul September 14, 2022

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  • "I can’t say enough good things about Clayton and his paralegal Jill. They helped me navigate the scariest time of my life. I knew I needed a tough lawyer and trust me Clayton is one tough lawyer. I am extremely grateful they coached me through a very difficult time. They educated me at every level and represented well. I highly recommend using Clayton and Jill." - anonymous June 6, 2022

  • "I was referred to Clayton Spencer Law Firm by another attorney who told me that Clayton is the BEST. I was having a horrific time with the attorney that I was working with and am so grateful that I terminated her and hired Clayton and Jill. Working with Clayton and Jill was night and day in comparison. Clayton always provided thorough explanations and he kindly laid out the pros and cons of the actions that needed to be taken each step of the way. He took the time to carefully listen to my concerns so that I never felt disregarded. He and Jill provided guidance and were empathetic and kind, yet moved the process along quickly and so, so, so, cost efficiently. A child support calculation and motion that took my previous counsel’s firm 6 weeks to complete took Jill about 20 minutes. When opposing counsel didn’t respond to requests or phone calls, as was typical, Clayton politely emailed every single day until he received a response. I felt that Clayton and Jill truly wanted what was best for me and my son, while making sure that the settlement was fair for both parties. I highly recommend this dynamic duo!" - maria April 11, 2022

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