Some Washington parents who were denied custody of their children in court may worry that they are on the brink of losing their relationship with their kids. However, even individuals who aren't granted custody can be successful in enjoying substantial visitation rights and time. In general, absent situations of abuse and other severe problems, family courts have a strong policy interest in supporting the involvement of both parents in children's lives.
In addition, child custody and visitation are matters that can change in the future. It is important for people who were denied custody in court to maintain their relationship with their children and exercise their right to the visitation time they do receive in court. There are a number of reasons why a parent can be denied custody, and the first priority of the court should be the safety and well-being of the child. In some cases, a court may think a home with roommates, for example, is unsuitable for a child or have concerns about the lack of bedroom space. However, in other cases, the court may believe that traveling back and forth could be damaging to the child's mental health even when both parents have a safe home.
Despite the custody decision, the court should issue a visitation schedule that provides details about the times and scheduling of the child's time with the noncustodial parent. There are a number of visitation schedules that can be used, and they can include weekends, weeknight visits, split holidays and summer vacations.
In many cases, family courts prefer to see both parents collaborate and agree on how to handle child custody and visitation arrangements for their children. A family law attorney can help parents seeking custody or pursuing visitation to achieve a schedule that supports their involvement with their children or seek a modification to an existing agreement.