For those in the state of Washington who will be getting a divorce this year, there is one important item that certainly should not be thrown out. The family calendar could come in very handy when trying to decide child custody and support issues, and it is a great predictor of what the custodial parent might need in order to maintain the current lifestyle the children are accustomed to.
Many divorced parents in Washington struggle with the new realities of co-parenting. It can be emotionally draining and logistically difficult to go from being with the kids 100% of the time to sharing them with a former partner. While these challenges can emerge even in amicable divorce situations, the situation can be much worse in a high-conflict divorce. This is especially true when one of the partners is toxic, narcissistic or otherwise disruptive, even if their behavior does not rise to the level of child abuse or neglect. Despite the personal conflicts that remain, parents have a responsibility to put the best interests of their children first.
When Washington parents decide to end their marriage, dealing with child custody matters can be one of the most emotionally draining tasks. Kids themselves may have a hard time with the divorce, and many parents may feel as if the system is stacked against them. These feelings of frustration can multiply if a parent learns that a child custody or child support hearing has been scheduled for an inconvenient or inaccessible place and time. Whether the parent is traveling, has an unavoidable work conflict or has moved out of state, there are many reasons why it may be difficult or impossible to attend a hearing in person on a specific day.
Washington residents who are co-parenting might worry about the way the parents' relationship can affect the children, particularly if the split between the parents was not amicable. However, parents can co-parent their children in a positive environment even when they might not like each other very much.
When some Washington parents divorce, one of them may have concerns about the safety of their children when they are with the other parent. When they have true fears that their children's other parent places them in danger, they should speak up and inform the court about their concerns. Courts will investigate threats of violence, domestic violence, and allegations of abuse before they make child custody decisions.
When parents in Washington divorce, children are often affected in many ways. One recommended way to make changes to a child's life less disruptive and emotional is for parents ending a marriage to be cooperative co-parents who proactively protect their children.
For children of parents in Washington who are divorced or separated, summertime can be a time of stress and anxiety instead of a time of joy and relaxation. But it doesn't have to be this way if parents no longer living in the same house do some planning before school is out and schedules are more flexible.
Gathering the necessary documentation for child custody should begin long before going into court. A judge should receive and have time to review the documents before the actual custody hearings, but parents who are separated and headed for divorce may want to start keeping records of the child's interaction with both of them.
While many experts may say that a healthy co-parenting relationship is the ideal post-divorce arrangement, it is not possible for all parents. Several elements must be in place for people to co-parent successfully. These include the ability to communicate, consistent rules between households, adherence to the custody schedule but flexibility if it must change and respect for one another as parents. Individuals should also agree on major issues like religion and education, have clear boundaries and behave amicably at events they must both attend for the children.
The good news today for fathers in Washington is that courts often approach child custody cases with the presumption of awarding joint legal custody. This trend marks a dramatic change from what was common for much of the previous century - awarding full custody to the mother. Courts are now increasingly recognizing the importance of keeping both parents involved in a child's life after a marriage ends.