You and your spouse are divorcing, and custody is a big issue. This is a common problem, and one with no easy answers. Naturally, the best interests of your child should be of top concern. In fact, this is the criteria that a court will use to make custody determinations should you and your partner not be able to do so. To help you negotiate an arrangement that works best for all involved, consider the factors that the court uses to make these determinations.
Washington State Custody Law
RCW 26.09.187 (3) details the criteria a judge considers when determining the residential provisions that best suit a child when their parents separate or divorce. These seven factors play an essential role in where your child will reside. They must always be taken into consideration by the court to ensure that your custody order will hold up. Your lawyer can help you further expand on these factors.
How strong is your child's bond with each of you? How stable is it and what is the nature of these relationships? This factor weighs the heaviest in determining residential custody.
2. Parental agreements
Have you and your spouse already designed a parenting plan that best meets the interests of your child? It's imperative that you both entered into the agreement willingly and knowingly.
3. Former performance
How has your relationship been with your child in the past? Have you demonstrated the ability to parent your child well? This includes your child's day to day needs.
4. Your child's developmental level and emotional needs
Does your child have any special emotional or developmental needs? Which parent can best meet them?
5. Relationships with other family members and physical attachments to surroundings
Sibling relationships are important. Additionally, are there adults, like aunts and grandparents, who have a strong presence in your child's life? How involved is your child in school activities, clubs, and other outside interests that may be impacted by a move to a new residence?
6. The wishes of parents and mature children
The concerns of you and your spouse are considered in relation to how you will best provide for your child's needs in your household. If your child is sufficiently mature to weigh in, his/her desires are reviewed too.
7. Parental work schedules
What type of employment schedules are you and your spouse dealing with? Are you out of town frequently? Do you have a long commute or work late hours? Can you make work accommodations to better meet your child's day to day needs?
These are the seven essential issues that you and your Washington family law attorney must address to negotiate a custody plan that works best for you child and is satisfactory to you and your spouse.