Maybe, but it can be hard to do. Usually, the judge will change it if both parents agree to the change. If you do not agree, the judge may make major changes such as custody only if a major change has taken place in the child’s or other parent’s life since the judge signed the original Parenting Plan. It is not enough that the parent wanting the change thinks their life has gotten better and should now have custody.
If you do not agree on the change, one of these things must have happened for the judge to order a change in custody:
- The child has gone to live with one parent for a long time with the other parent’s permission.
- The parent who does not want the change has been held in contempt of court at least twice in three years, or has been convicted of interfering with the other parent's custody or visitation.
- The present custody situation is physically or emotionally harmful to the child.
The judge can make smaller (minor) changes more easily.
Example: a judge can make minor changes to the amount of time or certain days the child spends with either parent if it is in the child's best interests.
If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you can ask on your own to change your Parenting Plan. File a Petition to Change Your Parenting Plan, Residential Schedule, or Custody Orderhas forms and instructions.
You can also get the court forms at courts.wa.gov/forms or ask the family law facilitator, if your county has one. (Facilitators help people with no lawyer find and file the right forms in custody and divorce cases.) Alternatively, you could ask the Superior Court Clerk for the forms.
- If you do not have internet access or to a courthouse, call the CLEAR hotline at 1-888-201-1014 to ask them to mail forms to you.