It is unfortunate that children and often caught in the middle of a Washington divorce. In many instances, this is simply due to both parents wanting to spend as much time as possible with their children. In some cases, there is acrimony between the parents and concerns over safety.
Washington State does not use the term “custody” when it comes to children. Both parents will oversee the child and take part in raising them unless there are extenuating circumstances. Still, a parenting plan is needed.
The objective is to have a detailed arrangement as to when the parents will see and spend time with the child. Regardless of the situation, it is essential to understand basic facts about parenting plans.
Know the key facts about parenting plans
The parenting plan will cover the arrangements as to where the child will live, how decisions are made for them and how any disagreements are handled. Although both parents are expected to share the responsibility to raise the child, logistics such as schooling make it necessary that the child reside with one parent most of the time. Depending on the case, it can be equal or close to equal.
No matter how the template is organized, the best interests of the child come to the forefront. That means giving them a safe environment, making sure they are fed and clothed, and that their medical needs are fulfilled.
In some cases, the parents can agree on their own with where the child will live and what the parenting plan will be. In others, the court decides. Some parents have various problems that make it difficult for them to have extensive time with the child. That could be drugs, allegations of abuse or mental illness.
Children can be granted a say as to where they will live only if they are deemed mature enough to do so. The courts do not have a specific age when the child will be given a voice. Parents must follow the parenting plan as it is written. If they are on good terms, they can usually settle disagreements through discussion and negotiation. Perhaps a parent wants to go to an event with the child and it is not their time to have them. They can trade days or come to another understanding.
When the parents are in contentious dispute and one is not adhering to the plan, they can be held in contempt of court. This can result in sanctions. The other parent might get extra time with the child to account for what was missed. If changes are requested and the parents cannot agree, then it is necessary to ask the court for a modification.