Seattle Divorce and Child Custody

Child custody has evolved over the last several years and there are things you need to know about child custody and how it relates to your Seattle divorce, or Washington State divorce.

No longer do we see Dads relegated to being, for lack of a better word, the second- class parent. Researchers have determined that fathers are incredibly important in the lives of their children.

Unless he’s a scary domestic violence perpetrator or a dangerous human being, the King County Family Court will probably going to give him a lot of time with his children and it’s going to be up to you to come up with a custody plan that works for both of you – if you go to settlement. Or a Seattle divorce judge is going to figure it out in trial and you will live with the results.

We no longer see what we used to refer to as “Disneyland Dads.” This was the old child custody decision model that basically gave Dad every other weekend to do something with his children. That’s not how it works anymore in child custody issues.

There’s a lot of research coming out about the importance of fathers in the life of their children and the research shows that children need to have time with their fathers on a regular basis.

They need to be at their Dad’s house after school and doing homework and going to bed and brushing their teeth and doing chores and getting up for school and getting their clarinet or field trip permission slips and having Dad take the kids to soccer or basketball practice – you get the picture. Kids really need that kind of regular ongoing relationship with their father, and the King County courts are starting to understand that.

You need to be prepared for child custody arrangements that allow for your spouse to have as much time with the children as you do. In many cases joint physical child custody arrangements are split almost 50-50 now.

Remember, in Washington State, and thus in child custody decisions for divorcing parent in Seattle, the court bases everything on what are the best interests for the child.

They will review the parenting plan you have negotiated based on your parental evaluation results prior to the actual child custody hearing.

In Washington State, one or both parents may be granted either legal or physical custody of a child. Legal custody will determine which parent may make day to day decisions for a child, such as health, medical, and educational decisions. However, either parent may make emergency decisions for a child while the child is in his/her custody, regardless of the legal custody arrangement.

A court in Washington will consider awarding both parents joint physical custody under the following circumstances:
  • Each parent’s participation in the decision-making of the child’s life.
  • Each parent’s proximity to one another and how that proximity will affect decision-making for the child.
  • Whether the parents can and will work with each other to make decisions for the child.

Regardless of your feelings about your spouse, it is critically important that you try to reach agreement on child custody issues, and make that decision weighing all of the above factors.

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