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Divorcing? Know the ins and outs of child custody in Washington

You did your best for more than two decades to build a successful lifestyle with your family in Washington. As it grew more evident that your marriage was heading for divorce, however, your focus immediately shifted to protecting the best interests of your children. You've read recent news stories that have highlighted what can happen when parents disagree on child custody issues. Celebrity fans have been following various ongoing court battles regarding custody fights that have been raging for more than a year now.

The last thing you want is to be entangled in a long, drawn out courtroom battle over your children. Your greatest hope is to negotiate a fair and agreeable plan that provides for your children's needs and helps them move toward a new, happy future. By the tone your spouse takes when you try to discuss custody issues, you aren't so sure an amicable settlement will be possible without the court's intervention.

Get the facts before heading to court

Child custody problems are stressful enough without suffering the consequences of negative surprises in court. If you know your rights and have a thorough understanding of Washington child custody laws ahead of time, you may be able to avoid contentious courtroom debates. The following list includes basic information about this state's custody regulations:

  • The Washington court tends to refer to all matters relating to custody or visitation as a parenting plan.
  • A basic parenting plan in Washington addresses issues such as where children will live after the divorce and whether one or both parents will have decision-making authority regarding the children's education, medical care and other major life issues.
  • A parenting plan also lays out exactly how any disputes that arise down the line will be resolved.
  • The court takes parents' opinions into consideration but retains ultimate authority in all parenting plan issues. Once the court rules, all parties involved must adhere to the existing court order.
  • The court does not take child custody decisions lightly and generally reviews many factors before handing down a ruling, including, but not limited to, parents' physical and psychological health, children's relationships with parents, siblings and extended family members, and whether one or both parents have been primary caregivers of the children prior to the divorce.

You understandably want your children's best interests to be the central focus in all child custody proceedings. The problem is that if your former spouse objects to your interpretation of what is best for your kids, it can lead to major legal problems.

Many concerned parents ask experienced family law attorneys to help them overcome custody, visitation and support-related obstacles so they can put the past behind them and help their children adapt to a new lifestyle.

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