Child custody is one of the most complicated issues for divorcing parents, especially when both wish to retain an active and involved role in the life of their children. In many cases, parents are able to agree to the terms of a custody and visitation order that allows both of them to have regular access to their kids. A court will make the final decision on custody in cases where the parents are unable to reach an out-of-court agreement.
Whether you and the other parent will come to a custody agreement on your own or you will go to court to fight for your desired outcome, the best interests of the child is the primary concern. A court will prioritize the needs of the child, looking at various factors to determine the ideal outcome for the specific situation. Any agreement is subject to the approval of a Washington family court.
The needs of your child
Custody can become a point of contention between two parents, and while it is normal to have strong feelings about arrangements pertaining to your kids, your feelings may not dictate what is truly best long-term. It may help to consider the factors a court will take into consideration in order to understand how you can protect the best interests of your child as well as your parental rights. These factors include:
- Special needs of the child, including health care concerns
- School schedules and work schedules for the parents
- Preferences of the children
- Any drug or alcohol dependence of the parents
- Religious practices and cultural considerations
- Allegations of abuse or neglect
- Opportunities to interact with extended family members, including grandparents
- Continuity of lifestyle and schedule for the children
As a parent, you naturally want what is best for your kids. In a situation where you feel you must fight for custody of your kids, you may have to prove you can provide stability and security for them now and in the future.
Your parental rights
If you have custody concerns, it may be in your interests to learn more about your parental rights and what you can do to fight to maintain your role in the lives of your kids. Before you agree to any negotiated terms or make any important decisions, you will find it helpful to remove temporary emotions from the equation and think about the best interests of your children above all else.