Experienced Child Custody Attorneys in Seattle
Divorce proceedings are already highly emotional situations to process, but with children involved, it becomes even more stressful and anxiety-inducing. No one wants a toxic child custody dispute scenario in their Washington divorce or visitation proceedings. You deserve to be a part of your child’s life, and at ZafiroLaw, we work with you to reach an agreement that protects your rights and the best interests of your child. Our child custody attorneys have years of experience successfully representing clients in child custody cases throughout Snohomish and King Counties.
Washington State Custody Laws
Washington child custody laws require parenting plans and related orders to prioritize the best interests of the child. Even when both parents mutually agree to a parenting plan, if the court finds it does not take into consideration the best interests of their children, then it will not be accepted.
In custody dispute situations, agreements may not be possible between the parents, and a judge will step in and consider the following factors when making a decision:
- A parent’s ability to provide the most basic of needs for their child
- Whether either parent has or is creating a stable relationship with their child
- The parent’s ability to make critical decisions regarding their child’s health, education, and other issues
- Previous history of neglect, abuse, or domestic violence in the household
It is also possible that your child’s wishes could affect a custody decision if they are old enough to express this maturely. If you and your former partner were part of a blended family and there are half-siblings involved, the judge may also consider this.
Washington Child Custody Options
If you are divorcing with children, or if you are breaking up an no longer living with the other parent of your child, Washington law requires the submission of a parenting plan to the court before your divorce can get finalized. Washington state does not use the term “custody” or “visitation” orders. Rather, the court enters orders for a parenting plan or a residential schedule. For situations where you are in the middle of a custody dispute, the presiding judge will determine the final custody arrangements. At ZafiroLaw, our highly skilled Seattle divorce attorneys have years of experience helping clients negotiate custody issues with their ex-spouse to avoid this situation.
Whether you and your former spouse/ your child’s other parent are both in agreement or a judge decides for you, the following types of custody could be ordered:
This is a common custody arrangement ordered by the courts in Washington. In this type, parents share in the legal and/or physical custody responsibilities of their child.
Sole Custody/ Parenting Plan with Restrictions
If a parent essentially receives sole custody because there are restrictions placed on the other parent, this means their child lives primarily with them and the other parent’s has limited or no time with the child. Legal and physical sole custody decisions require serious circumstances to be present because it limits the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.
There are situations where a judge may use a hybrid approach to joint and sole custody situations. Maybe a child gets ample visitation time with both parents, but only one parent has the authority to make legal decisions regarding schooling or medical care.
If a divorced couple is disputing custody arrangements and cannot sit down to discuss the issue and work it out, relying on a third-party as a mediator may be necessary to avoid a court making the final call. Having a neutral party available to facilitate negotiations to work out the underlying cause of the disagreement can save a lot of heartache and further emotional trauma in these situations.
How Do I Modify My Parenting Plan in Washington State?
Times change, as do the needs of our children and the demands of our daily lives. Parents may need to seek a modification of custody through the court at some point for a variety of reasons. This process requires the filing of a “Petition to Change a Parenting Plan, Residential Schedule, or Custody Order.” When submitting it to the appropriate court, you must specify the exact changes to your current custody arrangement that you need.
The Washington Courts website has a wealth of information and links to get you these modification forms, but before you begin filling out the paperwork, speak with a knowledgeable family law practice like ZafiroLaw. Our legal team can help show you how your original parenting plan is affected by significant life changes. This could be due to the other parent relocating overseas or the development of a terminal medical condition, or other major life events for you and/or your child.
ZafiroLaw Can Help
Whether you are considering divorce, are in the middle of a custody dispute, or need to modify your current order, the Seattle child custody attorneys of ZafiroLaw bring the skilled legal approach you need to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your child.
Our firm has served thousands of families in Snohomish and King Counties who faced challenging custody matters. We have over a decade of experience representing these issues and understand how local courts view disputes so that we can help you avoid a disappointing judgment.
To learn more about how we can help your particular family law situation, please call us at 206-547-9906 or contact us today! We offer our services in several cities around Seattle, including Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Bothell, and Kirkland.