Child custody is one of the most difficult issues a parent faces in divorce. Deciding on a visitation (parenting time) schedule can quickly become contentious between you and your spouse. The goal of our Washington child custody lawyers at Cohen Family Law, LLC is to help you get the best possible outcome for you and your children. (360) 953-5000 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.
Determining custody and visitation is one of the most significant parts of the divorce process. Most parents’ primary concern is retaining their relationship and ability to care for their children. A child custody lawyer understands what you’re going through and will do their best to make the process as painless as possible. Even if your custody case looks uncomplicated, there are many details about the family legal system you may be unfamiliar with.
Hiring an attorney will ensure the best interests of you and your child are fought for. They know the types of evidence that courts and custody experts are looking for when deciding parenting time, decision-making, and emergency matters. Being represented by a professional child custody lawyer will also benefit you with the peace of mind in knowing all required court documents will be filed on time, you will have the necessary guidance and objective advice about your case, as well as a convincing argument to fight for your rights.
When parents are separating or filing for divorce, they must make decisions about child custody and visitation just like any other aspect of a divorce, such as property division, spousal support, etc. Either the parents will come to their own agreement, typically with the help of attorneys and mediators, or the court will decide the terms.
If the parents are not married and facing a child custody dispute, it will be solved in a similar way as a divorcing couple, either through an agreement or the court. However, the mother of a child is typically awarded sole custody by default unless the father takes action to establish paternity. An unmarried father who is on a child’s birth certificate has already established paternity and has equal rights as a married father to custody and visitation.
In Washington, a child custody arrangement is referred to as a parenting plan. A parenting plan dictates the terms of where a child will live and with which parent, how the parents will make decisions regarding their child, and how future issues will be resolved. There are several different ways custody can be awarded, but the court’s guiding principle is the “best interests of the child.” Even if both parents can agree on the terms of a parenting plan, a judge will review it to make sure it is in the children’s best interests. The judge will typically consider each parent’s ability to:
Other factors a judge may take into account before approving or deciding a parenting plan are:
Knowing these factors can help you prepare, but keep in mind that each custody case is unique, and the outcome can differ. A residential schedule will also be part of the parenting plan, which is a court order stating when the child will be with each parent.
Custody disputes can also arise in paternity and third-party cases.
In a custody case, paternity refers to the legal relationship between a father and his child. When parents are not married, the process of making a biological father a legal father is known as “establishing paternity.” Parentage in Washington State can be established by presumption, acknowledgment (voluntary), or through a parentage action in court (involuntary). When the case is filed, the court can order the parties to submit to a blood test to determine whether a man is the child’s biological father and has the associated rights and obligations of a legal father. We can ensure your rights and interests are protected in any paternity action.
In addition to the biological parents, divorce can lead to custody and visitation disputes between grandparents, other family members, and friends. Washington state law will consider granting visitation, and in extreme cases, temporary or full custody to third parties. We can help you explain to the court why it is in the best interests of the children to remain in your care.
We understand how difficult and contested custody arrangements can be. If you are going through a divorce with children, separating from your child’s parent, or need to modify an existing parenting plan, it is crucial that you contact Cohen Family Law, LLC.
We can help you successfully navigate the child custody system to ensure the best interests of you and your children are protected. Call us at (360) 953-5000 or send us a message online today to schedule a free consultation with our Washington child custody lawyers.