Spokane Windstorms May Interfere with Parenting Plans

Spokane family law attorneys understand that inclement weather can cause problems for parents who are trying to comply with a parenting plan. That concern is particularly pressing as windstorms, snow, falling temperatures, and major power outages cause problems for divorced couples whose holiday plans with their children might be disrupted.

Noncompliance with parenting plans

Parenting plans specify when the children will be with each parent. Suppose the plan states that the father should have the children from 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. Sunday. If the father is responsible for transporting the children to their mother before 6:00 p.m. Sunday, he may in contempt of court if he fails to do so.

Parents typically get in trouble when they deliberately violate court orders. If the father decides that the parenting plan is unfair and that he should keep the kids until Monday morning, he will be risking contempt sanctions by intentionally disobeying the court’s order. The better course of action is to ask a family law attorney whether grounds exist to modify the parenting plan.

A different situation exists when a parent, attempting to cope with Spokane’s windstorms, snow, and loss of power, is simply unable to return the children on time. An unintentional violation of a parenting order cannot be punished as a contempt of court. The problem that faces the court, however, is deciding whether a violation is intentional or unintentional.

Let the other parent know

Every parent who is subject to a parenting order should make his or her best effort to obey it. No judge is happy when someone deliberately disobeys the judge’s order. Following the order is the only way to be sure that you won’t learn what an unhappy judge will do in response to your violation of the judge’s order.

When an emergency, like a blizzard or a power outage, makes it impossible to obey the order, using common sense can help you make wise decisions. As soon as you know that you will be unable to comply with a parenting order through no fault of your own, notify the other parent. Even if you do not want to talk to the other parent, you should make every effort to do so. It may be tempting to say “I couldn’t call because my cellphone battery died and I couldn’t charge it,” but you are setting yourself up for trouble if you do not borrow someone else’s phone to make the call.

If the other parent is reasonable, you will be able to work out an alternative that takes into account the weather or any other emergency that prevents you from obeying the parenting order. If the other parent is unreasonable, notifying the other parent of the problem at least shows the court that you making a reasonable effort to work out a solution. Be sure to get legal advice, however, if the other parent accuses you of being in contempt of court.



The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and are not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship.

Can I Move from Spokane and Take My Kids with Me?

Parents living in Spokane often ask their family law attorneys whether they can move their children to another city or state. The answer will depend upon the unique circumstances of your situation. The most important rule to bear in mind is that you should never relocate the children without obtaining legal advice about the procedures you will need to follow.

Parents often have legitimate reasons to move. You might have an attractive job offer in another state, or your employer may want to transfer you to a different location. Some divorced parents enter into new relationships and want to follow their new partners. Some parents have legitimate concerns about the safety of their children and may want to protect them by moving them away from an abusive parent.

As reasonable as those motivations for moving may be, Washington family law always looks out for the best interests of the children. You might think it is in your child’s best interests to move with you to a different place, but the other parent may disagree. In that event, you face significant penalties if you relocate the children without obtaining the court’s permission or the other parent’s consent.

Why you need legal advice

You can move wherever you want. That does not necessarily mean you can move your children wherever you want.

If you remove a child from the United States for the purpose of obstructing another parent’s right to spend time with the child, you could be prosecuted for international parental kidnapping. Even if interfering with another parent’s custodial rights was not your intent, a federal prosecutor or court might not believe you.

Even moving your child to another state or to another city in Washington can cause problems if the move will affect the rights of the other parent. If your children are living with you pursuant to a court order (such as a parenting plan), you probably need to comply with Washington’s Relocation Act before you move the children.

The Relocation Act requires you to notify the other parent before you change the residence of your children. Since strict procedural requirements govern the content and delivery of the notice, you should get legal advice to make sure that notice is given as the law requires.

The other parent can object if the children will be moved outside of their current school district. Unless the parents can resolve that dispute through negotiation, the court will need to decide whether to approve or disallow the relocation. Representation by an attorney maximizes your opportunity to convince the court of your need to move the children.

What if the other parent wants to move your children?

If your children do not live with you and you receive notice that the other parent intends to relocate the children, you will lose your right to object to the move unless you make an appropriate and timely objection. A Spokane family law attorney can help you do that.

Your attorney can also help you negotiate with the other parent and, if necessary, can represent you in court. Whether the judge will ultimately allow or disallow the move depends on what the judge believes to be in the child’s best interests. Your opportunity to convince the judge that it is in your child’s best interests to maintain close contact with you will be greater if you are represented by a respected family law attorney.



The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and are not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship.

How Much Time Do Children Spend with Each of their Divorced Parents?

Parents making child custody decisions during a divorce in Spokane and other Washington communities may be interested in the most recent report of the Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR) concerning the way Parenting Plans allocate time between parents. A Parenting Plan is a court order that determines which parent a child will live with, how much time the child will spend with the other parent, whether one or both parents will make significant decisions about the child’s life, and how disputes about those decisions will be resolved.

Parenting Plans and Residential Schedules

With the help of their Washington family law attorneys, most parents who need a Parenting Plan come to an agreement about its terms. The court will typically approve any reasonable Parenting Plan that the parents propose. When parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will make an order that it deems to be in the child’s best interests. It makes that decision after considering evidence presented by the lawyers for each parent (and, in some cases, by a court-appointed lawyer for the child).

The standard parenting plan form includes a “residential schedule” that specifies where the children will live on each day of the year, including birthdays, holidays, and vacations. A Washington law requires “parties to dissolution matters” to file a “residential time summary report” with the clerk of court. “Dissolution matters” are court proceedings to end a marriage or a domestic partnership. The residential time summary report summarizes the contents of the residential schedule, including the amount of time the child will spend with each parent.

WSCCR Findings

The WSCCR’s most recent analysis of residential time summary reports included the following findings:

  • About one-half of one percent of the residential time summary reports were filed by same sex couples.
  • The average report covered 1.5 children (a statistic that might be skewed by the fact that parents must file separate reports for children who are on different residential schedules).
  • In nearly two-thirds of the reports, children were scheduled to spend more time with the mother than the father.
  • In approximately 19% of the reports, children were scheduled to spend equal time with the mother and the father.
  • As you would expect, parents with risk factors that might affect their parenting ability were typically scheduled to have less time with their children than the other parent. Chemical dependency was the most common risk factor, followed by domestic violence.
  • When one parent had an attorney and the other did not, the parent with an attorney received more time with the children than the unrepresented parent.

Perhaps the most telling statistic is the last one. When a dispute exists about how much time a child should spend with each parent, representation by a Washington family law attorney makes a difference.


The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and are not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship.