Figuring out child custody arrangements can be a difficult legal process, often putting children in the middle of a contentious divorce proceeding. Most states, including Washington, offer the option of joint custody but also consider the wishes of the child when determining custody. Additionally, Washington's child custody laws recognize the visitation rights of grandparents. Let's look at some specifics.
The first thing to know about child custody laws in Washington is the correct terminology. Washington State child custody laws do not use the terms "custody" and "visitation." Instead, they refer to a parenting plan.
What Does The Parenting Plan Cover?
A parenting plan should include where the kids will live and with which parent, how the parents will make decisions regarding the children, and how future disputes between the divorcing parents will be resolved.
Who Makes The Final Decision On Custody Matters?
A Family Law Judge will determine whether your parenting plan provides the most loving and stable relationship between the children and each parent. The judge is likely to grant more time with the parent who was seeing to the daily needs of the children before the parents filed a divorce petition.
What Factors Will The Court Look At In Determining Custody Rights?
Among the factors a Washington State Family Law Judge may consider when deciding child custody arrangements are:
What If My Former Spouse and I Can't Agree On A Parenting Plan?
It's a fact of life that sometimes parents just can't get along and make decisions regarding the best interests of their children. If the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, they may have to go to trial in a Washington State Family Court, and have a judge decide the matter for them. The judge's decision will be final.
The basics of Washington child custody laws are listed in the following table, with links to additional articles. See FindLaw's Child Custody section, including How Child Custody Decisions Are Made to learn more.
|Code Section||26.10.100 et seq.|
|Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted||1979|
|Joint Custody an Option?||Yes|
|Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?||Yes, §26.09.240|
|Child's Own Wishes Considered?||Yes|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington child custody attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Washington Child Custody Laws: Related Resources
Have Questions About Washington Child Custody Laws? Talk to an Attorney
Learning more about Washington's family laws, particularly those relating to child custody, can often lead you to even more legal questions. If you're dealing with a child custody matter in Washington, it's a good idea to consult with a local child custody lawyer who can help you in your efforts to act in the best interests of your child.
Contact a qualified attorney.