Courts sometimes make mistakes in parenting plans. A court’s ability to modify a parenting plan is limited, but its ability to clarify an existing plan is broader. Washington child custody attorneys know that whether an order changing a parenting plan is considered a modification or a clarification may be the determining factor in whether the change is valid, as seen in a recent case.
The case involved a father with a history of mental health issues, marijuana use, and erratic behavior. This behavior included what the appeals court described as “obsessing” over his daughter being sexually abused. The trial court included in the parenting plan a provision that allowed the mother to temporarily suspend the father’s visitation right in the event he began acting erratically, or if there was “objective evidence of decompensation or elevated paranoia.” She could request that he seek a mental health evaluation. The father’s residential time was to resume when the doctor approved him to have overnight time with the child. The provision required the mother to file an affidavit/declaration within three business days of the incident.
The mother invoked this provision a week after the entry of the parenting plan. The father underwent a psychological examination, but the mother did not believe it was sufficient and did not allow visitation to resume. Continue reading