Washington Child Custody and Child Visitation
Addressing Washington child custody and child visitation issues in court are among the most emotionally draining processes. Washington courts push parents to come to a compromise when it comes to creating a child custody plan and/or child visitation schedule. If parents cannot come to a compromise, then courts will make the difficult decisions of appointing custody and visitation rights. These decisions are made by doing what is in the best interests of the child. Courts determine a child's best interests by examining a number of factors. These factors, along with other relevant areas of child custody and child visitation law, are provided below. While the information below is useful, it is recommended that one consult a Washington child custody attorney when addressing issues of child custody and child visitation in court.
Washington Child Custody
Washington courts only appoint custody in a manner that is in the best interests of the child. In addressing child custody, courts begin by requesting parenting plans. In Washington, both parents must submit parenting plans to the court upon divorce. If both parents agree on one parenting plan, then that parenting plan should be submitted to the court.
The goal of each final parenting plan is to:
As part of a Washington court's process of creating a single parenting plan, a court may interview the child in chambers. A record of the interview will be taken and provided in court to help determine the best interests of the child.
Once a final parenting plan or final custody order is created, a court may not modify the custody order unless there is a substantial change in circumstances resulting in the alteration of the child's best interests.
The confusing and important nature of the Washington child custody processes will often require the help of legal counsel. As such, you should consult a Washington child custody lawyer before entering child custody proceedings.
Washington Child Visitation Rights
A Washington court may grant visitation rights to noncustodial (without custody) parents and nonparents. Generally, noncustodial parents may receive child visitation rights if granting such visitation rights is not contrary to the best interests of the child.
As for non-parents seeking visitation rights, Washington courts require that the non-parent show by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has a significant relationship with the child. Once this significant relationship is proven, the non-parent must then show that the significant relationship is in the best interests of the child. If the significant relationship is in the best interests of the child, then the court will likely grant visitation rights.
If the non-parent seeking visitation rights is a grandparent, then he or she is presumed to be in the best interests of the child when a significant relationship exists. One issue regarding a grandparent's visitation rights regards hostilities between him or her and one or both of the parents. If hostility between the grandparent and parent(s) is the only thing hindering the grandparent's visitation being in the child's best interest, then the court may settle the matter by looking at the following factors:
Petitions for child visitation must be filed in Washington courts located within the county where the child lives. If you have any questions or concerns regarding child custody, please contact a Washington child custody attorney with experience working on child visitation rights.