Like all good parents in Washington, you want what is best for your children. When you filed for divorce, you understood that it would disrupt your kids’ lives but were determined to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Achieving a fair and agreeable child custody plan was one of your primary goals. Now, some time has passed, and you have determined that the terms of your existing court order are no longer feasible. What should you do?

When the court issues a child custody order, it is legally enforceable. This means that if your ex disregards the agreed-upon terms, the court can find him or her in contempt. It also means that you cannot change the terms of the order without the court’s approval. This is known as requesting child custody modification, and it’s what you must do if you are no longer able to meet the terms of the existing order.

You must still adhere to a child custody order until a modification is granted

Unless the court grants your request for modification, you are still obligated to adhere to the terms of the original court order. A judge must be convinced that modifying an order is in your children’s best interest. The following list includes numerous legitimate reasons to request a modification of a child custody order:

  • Your boss has informed you that you are being relocated.
  • You have incurred a reduction in income.
  • You pay child support and have remarried and are providing for stepchildren.
  • There is evidence that your children are at risk in the presence of your ex.
  • Your ex has been incarcerated.
  • Your ex has passed away.

There may be additional reasons why the court would agree to modify your existing child custody order. It is imperative to remember, however, that you may not initiate a change without the court’s permission.

Avoid child custody modification disputes

Studies show that children cope better with divorce when their parents work together to cooperate in child custody matters. This doesn’t mean that you should never disagree with your ex. It is not uncommon for co-parents to request a modification of a child custody order.

What is most important, is to try to resolve such issues with as little disruption and stress for the children, as possible. If your ex is trying to usurp your parental rights or is not adhering to the terms of your existing court order, you can bring the matter to the court’s attention. And, if you have a justifiable reason to request a modification of your existing court order, you should not hesitate to do so. Just be ready to provide evidence to the court to convince the judge to rule in your favor.