Skip to main content
Patrice McCausland Johnston

Patrice Johnston’s Answers

5 total

  • What are the chances that a non custodial parent can have the kids in his school district if he lives 45 min away from kids?

    Non custodial is proposing to modify parenting plan and overnight visitation 2 xs a week. He wants kids to go to school in district where he teaches. Custodial parent (me) lives 45 min away from his proposed school district and works an hour away....

    Patrice’s Answer

    In Washington, in order to modify a parenting plan, a party must show a substantial change of circumstances of the non-requesting party (you) or the children. Courts do not like to change parenting plans because they believe that doing so is disruptive to children, so the bar for requesting a change is high. Asking to change the plan simply because it would more convenient for him, or he thinks the schools near his home are better, is not sufficient. Unless there are other factors that you haven't mentioned, it does not appear that he will be successful if he files a petition to modify the parenting plan, but you should consult with an attorney if he does. The attorney should be able to assist you in getting the petition dismissed on adequate cause.

    See question 
  • My ex threaten to call the cops in front our child, my boyfriend do I have any rights to protect myself against his open threats

    I think it is disgusting that my ex would threaten me with jail in front of our child and feel that he should have no time with our son because of lack of judgement and having our child witness it. What can be done to protect our child from verbia...

    Patrice’s Answer

    Although you are right that this type of behavior reflects poor judgment, it's not likely that the court would completely terminate your ex's time with the child because of it. As a practical matter, the best way to handle this in the short run might be to bring a neutral third party to the exchanges (not a boyfriend, but a sibling, parent, etc.) so you have a witness to the events, and someone who can remove the child from the conflict if necessary.
    If you already have a parenting plan, you should follow the dispute resolution provisions and try to set up a new procedure for exchanging the child at a neutral public location like Starbucks or a police station where you and your ex do not speak to each other. If he refuses to participate, or the verbal abuse continues, you may need to ask the court to modify the parenting plan because the current arrangements are damaging to the child. This is an expensive and time-consuming process, however.

    See question 
  • In WA state does the possible biological father have to pay child support if he's not listed on the birth certificate?

    Our son is possibly the father of twins with a former girlfriend. He has assumed he is the biological father but never had a genetic test. Relations between families soured and now he has a court notice for child support. Is he liable to pay ev...

    Patrice’s Answer

    He should retain a family law attorney to help him respond to the court proceedings. It appears that either the state is seeking to establish paternity and set child support, or the mother has filed to do so. The court can require the possible father to submit to genetic testing, and if he is the father, the court will order him to pay support. The court can also enter a parenting plan if he wants residential time with the children.

    See question 
  • Can a step-parent sign any school or medical related forms or request such items from a school or doctor?

    My ex has an extremely overbearing wife who represents herself as though she is the mother as well as simply thinking she has these legal rights. I am a very, very involved mom and obviously this has taken its toll. Is there a letter I can write...

    Patrice’s Answer

    Have you addressed this with dad? He is the person who should intervene and ask her not to overstep into these areas. If he won't, then you can certainly contact the school and the doctor and clarify that only you and dad are authorized to make decisions for the children. A lot depends on what kinds of things stepmom is doing. If she's just taking the kids to the dentist during dad's time, that's OK; if she's making decisions about whether the kids get immunizations, whether or not they participate in school activities, etc., that's inappropriate and you are justified in expressing your concern.

    See question 
  • My ex is withholding our child's passport from me. Do I need to take him to court to get it back?

    I purchased the passport, and I gave it to him to go on his vacation with her. Now he refuses to give it back to me.

    Patrice’s Answer

    Following up on the other answer, if you are unable to reach a resolution in the dispute resolution process, you can file a motion on the family law motions calendar in King County and ask the court to order your ex to turn the passport over to you. But the court will expect you to have tried dispute resolution first.

    See question