We live in WA. I have custody of the children, 12 & 15. Their father is moving out of state. We don't always get along. He wants to sit down and agree upon a plan, but I am uncomfortable. Additionally, what rights do my kids have? The oldest has expressed a desire to not spend all free time with their dad. Does my original parenting plan need to be modified? Can we agree mutually to something? What if things change down the road and neither kid wants to go visit?who is responsible for airfare? I certainly can't afford to fly my kids back and forth three times a year. Thanks.
Yes. The PP stays in place and is a valid court order that must be followed. If he want to change the plan and you do not agree, it is up to him to file a Petition to modify the PP. Children may never choose where they want to live or whether they want to visit -- again, a PP is court a court order. Failure to follow the court order can have serious ramifications for the parent who supports a child's refusal to follow the court order.
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The current parenting plan that you have entered with the court remains in effect. If you feel uncomfortable sitting down with the father, then I would hire an attorney to look over your case file and strategize next steps so that you and your children can feel secure as to the order(s) in place. I would want to see the language of the order and also I would like to know if this is a final or a temporary order currently entered with the court. Depending on the language of the parenting plan and if it is a final or temporary order, a parenting plan modification may actually be something you want to get done. If I were you, I would schedule a consultation with a family law attorney to review the parenting plan with you and decide next steps.
The answers: (1) "What rights do my kids have? The oldest has expressed a desire to not spend all free time with their dad." Your kids normally cannot speak directly to the judge; their views are transmitted by a court appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). (2) : "Does my original parenting plan need to be modified?" From your point of view, probably not. If the dad has weekend visit and that becomes impossible because he moves, he's the one who has to ask the court to modify the parenting plan. On the other hand, you both can enter a modified parenting plan if you both agree on the terms. (3) "Can we agree mutually to something?" Yes. (4) "What if things change down the road and neither kid wants to go visit?" The current plan must be followed until it is modified. (5) "Who is responsible for airfare?" The current plan continues if it provides for responsibility for transportation. If it doesn't say you have to pay, you don't. It’s always best to consult with a good family law attorney to discuss the details before you act. See my AVVO Legal Guides on parenting plans, modifications, the UCCJEA, and visitation for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although these Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. There are always exceptions to the general rules. Click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "Contributor Level - View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Contribution - Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 29 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”.
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