When Washington parents decide to divorce, the court ultimately either approves a parent-devised custody plan or steps in to make decisions regarding child custody and other issues if parents cannot resolve such issues themselves. While every case is unique, the court always has children’s best interests in mind. In some situations, this might include ruling that the children in question would be best off living full time with one only one of their two parents. That does not mean the other parent cannot request visitation, however.
One of the numerous reasons the court might deny custody to one parent is if it determines that the children involved would not hold up well to the stress of switching back and forth between households. This is no way implies that the non-custodial parent is unfit or that his or her household is unsuitable. It merely means that the judge overseeing the case has determined that the specific children in question would adapt better to their post-divorce lifestyle if they consistently lived with the same parent all the time.
There are many types of visitation agreements. Some parents see their children weekly, others alternate visits on an every-other-week basis. Summer vacations and holidays, plus birthdays and other special occasions, can be incorporated into a visitation arrangement as well. If parents are able to amicably discuss such matters, they are typically free to devise their own plans, including times and locations of pick ups and drop offs.
For some Washington parents, extenuating issues have sparked contention in their relationships, so it’s best if the court makes all decisions regarding child custody or visitation. Whether parents come up with their own plan or a judge makes all the decisions, once a court order is executed, both parents must fully adhere to its terms no matter what. Any concerned parent who is having trouble resolving a custody or visitation issue or needs assistance handling a situation where a co-parent has disobeyed a court order may seek support by requesting a meeting with an experienced family law attorney.