Parents in Washington State often want to maintain a positive relationship with their children regardless of how the child custody decision goes. The court, for its part, wants to act in the best interests of the child. This is why there are certain instances in which the law considers an agreement modification. The court won't alter a custody decree that has already been made, nor will it change a parenting plan, unless the facts indicate that there was information that wasn't known when the decree was made and a change in the circumstances has made a modification necessary. The best interests of the child are paramount.
The court will adhere to its standards and the decree will remain the same unless certain circumstances occur. For example, the decree may be modified if both the parents have agreed for there to be a modification. It may also be modified if the child is integrated into the family of the person who is petitioning for the change and the other parent agrees with the modification. Another reason for modification would be if the environment in which the child currently resides is damaging to him or her in an emotional, mental, or physical way, and the change to the environment won't harm the child more than the current environment. Finally, an agreement may be modified if the court finds that the parent who is not moving has been found in contempt at least two times in the prior three years because of failure to follow the parenting agreement or there was a conviction for interference with the custody.
If there was a conviction of custodial interference and it was in the first or second degree, that is enough for there to be a substantial change of circumstances to warrant the modification. If the child's best interests are served by a restriction of access from the parent with whom the child doesn't live, this can be done. If there has been a substantial difference in the situation of the parent and/or child, there can be adjustments made to the residential agreement.
Parents who are seeking an agreement modification when it comes to child custody need to understand the foundation the court needs when making the decision to adhere to the wishes of that parent. Doing so may help parents pursue the desired resolution.