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Modifying Court Orders

After a divorce, circumstances sometimes warrant modifying a court order. Petitions for modification may apply to child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), or the parenting plan (custody arrangement). There are also rare circumstances in which a modification of property disposition may be obtained. Modifying court orders is never easy in Washington State, but there are clear guidelines that help our family law lawyers ascertain whether a petition is actionable.

With more than 50 years of collective experiencing handling court order modification issues, our legal team is well prepared to help you take the next step. Our Washington State family law attorneys represent clients all over Western Washington, including King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, and Thurston County. Contact us today for a free consultation, and find out whether you can pursue a court order modification.

Modifying Court Orders in Washington State – Child Support Modifications

You can petition the Washington Family Court for an increase or decrease in child support. In fact, child support obligations should be reviewed every two years, so the court can ascertain if there's been a change in employment or income during that time. Why is it a good idea to routinely assess child support obligations? Consider this: If your partner is receiving support and they get a new job that pays a significantly higher wage, do you think they're going to tell you about it? Don't make the mistake of complacency because it can cost you a lot of money.

You can also petition the court for a child support modification if there's been a “substantial change in circumstances.” This action can be taken at any time after a divorce, and also applies to unmarried parents. Obviously, the phrase “substantial change in circumstances” is a bit vague. Some events that may qualify could be losing gainful employment with good reason, or a severe illness. You will be required to supply evidence that supports your petition.

Some other situations that may warrant a child support modification include:

  • The child enter a new age category.
  • The child incurs increased expenses (perhaps an illness).
  • Significant economic difficulties.
  • An involuntary change in income.

Child support modifications are the most common in the State of Washington, but there are other court order modifications we routinely encounter.

Can I Petition the Family Court for an Alimony Modification?

The short answer is “yes,” but only under certain conditions. Again,there must be a “substantial change of circumstances” and the decree of divorce cannot say that spousal support is non-modifiable. Spousal support modifications may only affect future payments, which means there will be no retroactive support refunds.

Only a severe unexpected event will motivate the court to consider a spousal support modification. Contracting a debilitating disease, for example. Simply getting fired from your job probably won't cut it, unless some dramatic change within your field lead to mass layoffs or significantly lower wage earnings.

Alimony payments are only terminated if the support order has a termination date, the recipient dies, or they remarry. If you find out your ex is living with a new partner out of wedlock, the court will not entertain a petition to modify the court ordered alimony payments.

Parenting Plan Modifications in Washington State

To alter a parenting plan, once again you must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This makes sense because the court wants the child to have stability and consistency in their life. Some situations that many motivate the court to grant a petition for parenting plan modifications include a change in work schedule, in-state relocation, and out-of-state relocation.

Our attorneys can help you petition the court for a parenting plan modification, or defend against a request made by the child's other parent. Parents often seek to modify parenting plans to add days or weeks to their visitation schedule or alter transportation arrangements with the other parent.

Before the court will even hear a case involving the modification of a court ordered parenting plan, you must show that there is adequate cause for the petition. This requires evidence that support your claim. If the court believes your evidence warrants further consideration, they will set a hearing date. Whether petitioning the court, responding to a petition, or attending a hearing, preparation is essential to success. We urge you to talk to a qualified Washington State family law lawyer before taking any action to ensure you have the best chance of success.

Contact One of Our Experienced Lawyers Today to Find Our More About Modifying Court Orders

Modifying any court order will not be easy, but it's also not impossible. We offer a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose by asking questions and getting the facts. Whether you would like to petition the court for a court order modification, or defend your rights against an unwarranted request for modification, we can help.

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