How to Win a Custody Modification Case?

Family court is notorious for its challenging and tedious nature. Many parents quickly become disillusioned after a divorce ruling, thinking they have to settle for a custody situation they’re unhappy with. Many are left wondering: how hard is it to modify child custody? How can a non-custodial parent get custody?

How to Win a Custody Modification Case?

So, what is a parenting plan modification? How do you win a child modification case, and what do judges look at when deciding custody? The court’s ultimate goal in a custody modification case is to prove that the change will result in the best interest of the child.

Factors that must be taken into consideration by the court include the fitness of each parent, the emotional wellbeing of the child, the physical health of the child, as well as educational and recreational opportunities for the child.

If there is ample proof to show that modifying custody would improve the child’s overall wellbeing, the court will side with the plaintiff. Though it is left largely upon the court’s discretion what constitutes the child’s best interests, there are three common ways to file a modification case with a proven track record of success.

Check out more info about how to file a modification of parenting plan for Washington state.

Proving the Child’s Physical Placement with the Defendant Exceeds DeFacto Custody

It’s not uncommon for a parent to have a child for a longer period than what was originally agreed upon with the other parent. If the child has been physically placed with one parent for several months or even years, it is possible to seek a modification. Typically, a parent will attempt to modify custody if the child has not returned or if child support has not been paid.

This type of modification case is the simplest to win. It is difficult for a parent to justify longer physical placement with the other parent, and thus this type of case is usually not contested.

Proving the Other Parent is Unfit

This type of case is typically lengthier than others due to requiring a detailed report of all the defendant’s flaws. Keeping a detailed list of times the other parent’s actions have resulted in neglect or abuse is useful. Anything that would endanger the child or cause harm can be brought to light in such a case.

Proving Serious Issues for Child That Are Irreparable by Other Parent

A third way to modify custody is by proving that the child’s academics, well-being, or health are suffering, and the other parent is either unwilling or unable to fix it. A parent who refuses to engage in the child’s academic activities when physically in their placement might be a likely defendant in such a case.

Can Child Support Be Modified Without Going To Court?

No. You must petition the court with any changes to the child support order. It’s common that the child support needs to be changed and adjusted over time to reflect the needs of growing children, and can be accommodated by filing a Washington State child support modification.

Show Responsibility and Engagement

Providing evidence to the court that you make an effort to engage with your child and are a fit, responsible parent can be done in several ways.

Spend as Much Time as Possible With Your Children

Spend as much of your custodial time as possible with your child. Show up to all of your child’s appointments if you can. Plan fun activities you can do with your child when they’re in your care.

Be Dependable

Show that you are punctual in coming to appointments, important events, and meetings for your child. Always mark your calendar when a crucial day is coming up and do everything possible to be there.

Be Flexible

Things can unexpectedly happen that alter your plans and schedule. If your child suddenly has to be picked up from school, or a scheduling change occurred with one of your child’s activities, make sure to adapt your life to those changes. Showing willingness to rearrange your plans for the benefit of your child will go a long way.

Keep a Clean History

Don’t get pulled over or get caught doing anything illegal. It may sound intuitive and even comical, but it bears a reminder. A simple, avoidable mishap while driving can reflect badly on your character and affect custody later on.

Keep Detailed Notes

Record every payment you make in child support and every event you attend. Also, keep track of things like changes in your child’s academics or health. If you’re seeking a modification, you may ask yourself how do I prove I am a better parent in court? Keeping records of everything in your child’s life and staying organized is key.

Create a Safe Home Life for Your Children

Ensuring that your children have a safe space at home with you is crucial to winning a custody modification case.

Vet Your Inner Circle

Don’t let just anyone near your child. It may go without saying, but be choosy about who you introduce to your child and the type of people they are around when you have custody.

Keep Your Home Safe

Don’t leave your child unattended or have anything dangerous out in the open. Things like sharp objects and medications should be kept out of reach.

Keep Your Home Clean

No one’s home looks perfect at all times but do your best to tidy up when your kids are around. Hygiene is important. Avoid too many dishes stacking up, or having spills that go uncleaned.

Avoid Inappropriate Gatherings

Just as you should vet people you bring around your children, you should also vet your environment. Avoid parties where there will be rowdy adults or large crowds where you can easily lose track of your child.

Maintain Sexual Appropriateness

Even with young children, it is crucial to avoid anything that may be construed as sexually inappropriate. Don’t bathe with your children or walk naked around the house.

No Inappropriate Outings

It’s best to keep family movie night rated G when you have kids around. Aunty location or event that is primarily geared toward adults should be avoided as well.

Have Appropriate Babysitters

Do not allow babysitters who are too young, inexperienced, or have a criminal background to watch your child.

Absolutely No Corporal Punishment

Do not display anything that may be construed as emotional or physical abuse. Spankings or hitting any manner should be avoided at all costs, as should screaming at or insulting your child.

How to Manifest Good Overall Character

Your character will be brought into question in every modification case, so be sure to be on your best behavior and display no signs of being an unfit parent.

Get to Know the Adults in Your Child’s Lives

Avoid missing any parent-teacher conferences or meetings with your child’s coaches. You must show that you not only take interest in your child’s activities but also that you take the time to learn details about how your child is doing from other adults in their lives.

Do Not Fight in Public With Your Ex

Publicly arguing or fighting with your ex-partner can reflect very badly on your character and shows that you lack impulse and self-awareness. Be respectful and private when trying to solve any disputes.

Do Not Disparage Your Ex

It is crucial to your child’s wellbeing that you do not critique the other parent in their presence. Do not vent in front of your children about your ex, no matter how serious the situation.

Documents That Can Help You Win a Custody Modification Case

Staying organized with all records and documents relating to your child is key to winning any custody case. Make sure you have keep notes of everything and have them handy for the court.

Written Submissions to the Court

Be clear about what you’re asking in your statement to the court. State your position using supporting evidence when you submit your written statement,

Phone call Logs

You should record any time that your child engages with the other parent via phone call or virtual meeting. Keep track of the duration, frequency, and exact dates and times.

Visitation Schedules

Having an organized log of visitation times with the child is important. The frequency and length of visitations can prove parental interest in a relationship with the child.

Your Child’s Records

Keep track of homework assignments, report cards, and anything that may show that your child is thriving in your care.

Succeed in Negotiations or Mediation

Report all details and records you have to your attorney. The more you tell them, the more they are able to help you. It’s best to negotiate with the other parent peacefully, but if needed, involve your parenting plan attorney or mediator.

Additionally, contact a child support lawyer if you think you need one. Learn more about child support lawyer costs.

Can A Judge Deny A Child Support Modification?

Yes, a judge can deny or support any child support modification based on the evidence, circumstances, and what they deem benefits the needs of the child. However, if your request for modification is denied, you have the option of hiring an experienced family law attorney that can give you the help you need to plead your case.

Presenting a Winning Case in Court

You need to be on top of your logs. Presenting records in a clear and organized manner to the court will aid you in winning your case. Outline your parenting plan and be very detailed.

Final Thoughts

There are a few ways you could go about presenting a modification to custody. The success of your case will depend on how diligent you are with keeping records of supporting evidence and documents, as well as doing your best to show good character by keeping a clean record. As long as you remain calm, organized, and put in the effort, you will have a good chance at winning the custody modification you desire.

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays is the founder of Skyview Law. He is licensed to practice law in Washington State and the Western District of Washington State Federal Court.