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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 has done a fantastic job finalizing my parenting plan! He talks fast (admittedly) because he has so much energy and passion for what he does and doesn’t want to waste your time. He’ very knowledgeable in family law and sets reasonable expectations whether it was what I wanted to hear or not. He looks out for his clients best interest and the child in my case.. what I was most impressed by was after about 8 months, he returned my voicemail right away to answer my questions and spent about 15 minutes of his time giving me advice with expecting nothing in return. He is top notch!" - Krista July 2, 2021

  • "Mr Spencer has been in practice for over 30 years. He knows the law better than any attorney I know, and I actually know several. He is honest, straightforward, and will work hard (even at crazy hours), to bring the best results possible. " - Jason Ackley May 25, 2021

  • "I came to Clayton seeking representation for my divorce. This is my first marriage and so going through a divorce was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I had no idea what to expect until I marched into the office of Clayton Spencer. First was a consultation where we met, and he informed me of the timeline/order of events, fees and such that I could expect. He was not pushy, he even wanted me to look into my options before committing to his help. My divorce wasn’t nasty, but it wasn’t simple either, and unless you have a crystal ball there is no way to know what you will need or problems that will arise. I am so happy that I had Clayton in my corner to help see me through this horrific time in my life, he navigated the uncharted waters for me and super pleased with knowledge, professionalism and understanding of my expectations. Thank you to both you and Jill for being so responsive and proactive, and diligent with my case!" - Pamela, July 21, 2020

  • "Mr. Spencer is a honest and thorough lawyer. I hired him to represent me in a child custody case. He took me through a variety of outcomes that may occur and asked me questions so we could create the most beneficial case. When me and the other party came to an agreement on our own time, Mr. Spencer and his secretary Jill helped complete the parenting plan and Jill filed the paperwork quickly. Jill was able to assist me and answer any questions I had. I will hire them again if I ever need legal help in the future. " - Heather July 18, 2020

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