Divorcing parents in Washington State have the task of coming to terms with the future as well as taking care of the needs of their children. Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but it can be particularly impactful to the children.
Every state has unique considerations when it comes to custody determinations, but Washington courts will base decisions about parenting plans on certain criteria in the child’s home environment when determining what is in their best interests.
Residents of Kirkland and throughout King County can benefit from compassionate legal advocacy when it comes to focusing on their parental rights and the child’s well-being.
Creating a parenting plan
A permanent parenting plan should seek to achieve several objectives:
- Provide for the child’s physical care and emotional needs.
- Provide for changing needs of the child to minimize the need for future modifications of a parenting plan.
- Shield the child from harmful parental conflicts.
- Outline the responsibilities of the parent so as to minimize the need for judicial intervention.
In addition, a permanent parenting plan should also include plans to resolve future conflicts, who will have the authority to make decisions, and where the child will live. Dispute resolution may be in the form of counseling, mediation, or arbitration, with the goal of carrying out the parenting plan.
The plan should outline whether one or both parents will have the authority to make important decisions about the child’s education, religious upbringing and healthcare. When one parent is taking care of the child, they will have the responsibility of making decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing.
The plan should also determine the weekly residential schedule for the child, taking into account holidays, vacations and special occasions.
Procedures for submitting a parenting plan
One or both parents will submit a proposed parenting plan within the deadlines as outlined under state laws. If only one parent submits a plan, they can request that the court adopt this plan in default of the other party’s nonparticipation.
Both parents may also submit an agreed-upon permanent parenting plan. If the court provides a mandatory settlement conference, a judge may determine if the parties are unable or unwilling to come to an agreement. They may make a permanent parenting plan based on the findings of any limiting factors, such as evidence of abandonment, neglect, or domestic violence.