Experienced Washington Child Custody Lawyers That Fight With Integrity
There is no question that navigating a separation or divorce when children are involved, places added stress and increases the potential for heightened conflict. Every single child custody situation comes with its own unique set of facts and circumstances and level of potential for conflict. Our family law attorneys are dedicated to providing honest guidance and high-quality legal services to clients throughout the state of Washington during what can be a turbulent time.
Managing Conflict In Child Custody Situations
Conflicting emotions and interests can escalate into conflict when deciding on child custody. When two parents are parting ways, a very real internal conflict between wanting your kids to have a good relationship with the other parent and wanting to see them every day can be inevitable. We work with every client to listen to their custody goals, offer straightforward advice based on our experience and knowledge of the applicable laws, and craft our legal strategies accordingly.
Evolving Legal Strategies
In our decades of experience, we have witnessed the evolution of divorce and child custody laws, courts and legal processes in the state of Washington. Without a doubt, one of the greatest evolutions in the family law field is the use of mediation to reach agreements with respect to family law matters. Mediation can be used to negotiate terms for dissolution and divorce settlements and to find collaborative solutions for child custody arrangements that serve the best interests of all parties involved, most especially the child or children. While we have seen firsthand how mediation can generate effective solutions that work for all parties involved, we also know that in some circumstances reaching an amicable agreement is not always possible. When mediation is not possible, our team of litigators is ready to advocate fiercely for you and your child’s best interests.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody In Washington
We understand that there can be a lot of questions about what will happen to your children as you and your spouse or partner pursue a separation or divorce. Here, our family law lawyers answer some of the most commonly asked questions about child custody, visitation and parenting plans in the state of Washington.
How is child custody determined in the state of Washington?
In the state of Washington, the family law court system refers to custody arrangements and visitation schedules as a parenting plan. A parenting plan will include:
- Designations about who will make decisions on behalf of the child
- Where the child will reside
- Visitation schedules for each parent
- How the child will spend holidays and summer vacation
- Child support obligations
A parenting plan can also include details like how and when exchanges will take place for the visitation schedule and might even set forth parameters for how the parents will resolve disputes. If a judge becomes involved with deciding any or all of these details, the judge will make decisions based on the best interests of the child.
How does a judge determine the best interests of the child in the state of Washington?
In the state of Washington, if a judge has to decide what is in the best interests of the child, the judge will consider the following:
- Any clear evidence of abuse or neglect
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s relationships with other family members
- Each parent’s ability to maintain the child’s regular routines
The court will also take the child’s wishes into consideration, especially if the child is old enough to express what he or she wants and needs.
In Washington, who gets custody if the parents aren’t married?
In the state of Washington, if two parents of a child are not married, custody will default to the mother unless and until the father establishes paternity. By establishing paternity, the father will have rights that can be protected by law. At Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S., we also help unmarried couples with separation agreements.
How should I prepare for child custody mediation?
As the date of an impending mediation approaches, it can be nerve-wracking. But focusing on a few simple tasks will help you feel like you are ready. Mediation will be easier and potentially more effective if:
- You spend time thinking about a reasonable and realistic proposed parenting schedule that includes weekly visitation ideas and holiday schedules
- Take time to identify and prioritize your most important issues as there will be a lot to address
- Prepare calendars and lists of all of your child’s activities and schedules
- Make lists of any questions that you might have
Above all else, don’t ever let yourself forget to keep the best interests of your child in mind, always. The night before mediation, make sure you get enough sleep. On the day of mediation, don’t forget to eat breakfast. Stay calm, listen, focus on each topic as it is discussed and be ready to compromise.
What happens if we can’t agree on child custody?
If the details of a parenting plan can’t be resolved during mediation, the next step is to proceed to trial. At Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S., our team of experienced litigators will work hard to help you negotiate a settlement with respect to child custody and a parenting plan. However, we are fully prepared to fight for your best interests and the best interests of your child on your behalf if litigation becomes necessary.
Call Us To Discuss Your Washington Child Custody Questions
We know that there are a lot of questions that can arise when facing child custody issues. By scheduling an initial consultation, we can discuss your unique situation and answer any specific questions that you might have. Call us today at 509-662-3685 or send us an email through our online contact form to schedule your appointment.