For many parents embarking on the journey of divorce, one question looms larger than any other: Will I be able to keep custody of my child? At Akiona Law, we represent clients in these matters frequently, so we can help you understand some of the custody arrangements you’re likely to face.
When people who have children together get a divorce, a court ordered “parenting plan” will be created as a part of the process. In fact, Washington law never uses the terms “custody” or “visitation” with regard to these matters. Instead, Washington uses the terms “parenting plan,” “residential schedule” and “primary residential parent.” Let’s take a look at a few of the most common ways parenting plans are set up.
- Equal or 50/50 Split
For some families, it is in the child’s best interest to split his or her time between the parents’ home evenly; or, as close to 50/50 as possible. This might look like a week with mom followed by a week with dad; or, it could be split into biweekly or even monthly intervals. If both parents are pushing for “full custody,” and both share close relationships with the child, this may be the fairest divide. In these cases, both parents maintain decision-making authority. Usually holidays alternate.
- Primary and Non-Primary Residential Arrangement
In these cases, the child will spend the majority of their time with their “primary parent,” which could be mom or dad. The child then goes to the non-primary parent for weekends and school breaks. The primary parent may have occasional access to the child during school breaks for planned trips and special occasions/events. Parents usually alternate the holidays on an even/odd year basis.
- Residential Parent and Limited Visitation Rights
Usually this will be the arrangement only in certain circumstances; such as, if one parent was accused of domestic violence, child abuse or substance abuse. They may only be allowed to see their child under restrictions; such as, only with a professional or lay person (family member, friend) supervisor present and in a public place. If the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest to have no contact with an abusive parent, that option is also on the table.
Who can represent me in child custody matters?
From divorce to legal separation or to establishing child custody if you were unmarried and had a child with someone, your Akiona Law team has the knowledge and experience to provide you with the guidance you need. Contact us today to discuss your unique circumstances.