How Does Child Custody Work in Washington?
Unlike many other states, Washington doesn’t use the terms “child custody” or “visitation.” In our state, child custody is referred to as a “parenting plan.”
Washington state law requires parents whose children are under 18 years old to have a parenting plan during a divorce, legal separation, and annulment. The parenting plan must include the following decisions:
- Which parent the child will live with
- The length of time the child will spend with each parent
- Which parent has the responsibility to make decisions about the child
- How the parents will settle future disagreements
If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your parenting plan, you can present the plan to the judge in order to have him or her approve it.
If, however, you and your spouse aren’t able to come to an agreement, then you and your spouse can present opposing plans. The judge will review your plans and make the final decision in your case. When making this decision, the judge takes into account a number of factors, the most important of which is the best interest of your children. The judge also looks at whether there is any evidence of parental abuse or neglect or domestic violence on the part of one spouse.
When determining the best interests of your children, the judge will look at many things, including the children’s safety; their relationship with both parents, siblings, and other household members; and the children’s wishes. The judge will also consider each parent’s ability to provide for the children.
If you are considering divorce and you have young children, it is particularly important to contact an experienced Washington divorce attorney. With the help and guidance of a skilled divorce lawyer, you can ensure that your rights—and your children’s rights—are protected.
Please contact the Law Offices of Jason S. Newcombe today to learn how we can help you.