Divorce Questions and Answers

Q: Can my son’s dad change my son’s school without my consent?:

We have split custody and because of my ex moving we agreed to change my sons school in my district. It was more geographically and because of work schedules more logical. My son has been at the school now since September. We verbally agreed on this without changing the parenting plan. He is now threatening to change my son’s school because of a disagreement. Can he do this??

A: Boaz’s answer:

You will need to clarify the facts before a solid answer can be given. That said, assuming you have a “split-custody” (i.e., 50/50 shared residential) parenting plan order from Washington State that includes standard joint decision-making for educational decisions, a change in schools will require agreement of both parties. Even if you don’t, however, unless the parenting plan order provides otherwise, an opposed change in schools will typically require filing a petition for modification and subsequent court order authorizing the change in schools before it can be done. It is not in your child’s best interests to keep moving from one school to another without a good legal basis for it, and mere disagreement on an unrelated issue is clearly not enough.

Q: Does a court have the power to modify the parenting plan, and mandate parents to go for arbitration instead of mediation on almo: Parenting plan says mediation, typically fails. It’s a waste.

A: Boaz’s answer:

A Washington State Family Law Court generally has the legal authority to modify a parenting plan or custody decree if the party seeking modification can provide a legal basis (i.e., “adequate cause”) to do so. The full scope of legal bases to justify a modification action are in Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 26.09.260). If, at the show cause hearing, the court rules there is a legal basis (i.e., “adequate cause”) to modify the plan, the case moves to the discovery stage where information is obtained for purposes of settlement and, if necessary, trial.

In King County, and many other counties, following the discovery stage and prior to the trial date, the parties must attempt to resolve disputed issues through a form of alternate dispute resolution (i.e., mediation or arbitration). However, unless the parties agree to arbitrate, mediation must be attempted instead. Arbitration is not mandated. It is optional and requires both parties’ agreement.

See all of Boaz’s answers on avvo.com