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How does a judge determine a parenting plan?

If you are a parent who is going through a divorce, a major concern is probably who will get custody of your children. The state of Washington uses the term parenting plan instead of visitation or custody, and there are general factors that a judge typically considers before deciding on the best plan.

According to FindLaw, a parenting plan involves a number of considerations including which parent the children will live with, how to resolve disagreements between the parents and how to make important decisions that involve the children. One of the biggest factors in deciding which parent is the primary caretaker involves daily routines and care, although the judge considers other factors such as:

  • The health of each parent
  • The children's relationships with others
  • The capacity, in terms of lifestyle and work schedule, to consistently care for the children
  • The desires of the children (once they reach a certain age)
  • The amount and types of activities the children are a part of

The Washington State Courts discuss a study that looked at a child's wellbeing after divorce and involving factors, which may come into play when figuring out a parenting plan. Some of the most important things that enhance a child's wellbeing are: 

  • Living in a household of adequate income
  • Living with a parent whose mental and physical health are strong
  • Not having to move to a different home or school post-divorce
  • Having parents who communicate well and do not argue or show conflict in front of the children

Children often also tend to do better in joint custody situations and when each parent participates in their extracurricular activities.



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