When parents in Washington divorce, they may be able to work out a parenting plan between themselves. This may be preferrable to a trial, as the parents will have more say in what goes into the parenting plan if they negotiate the terms of the plan itself. There are several topics that can be addressed in a parenting plan.
A parenting plan can allocate decision-making authority between the parents. A court will approve such an agreement as long as the plan adheres to any mandatory decision-making authority limitations and as long as the agreement is made knowingly and voluntarily. If the court does have to allocate decision-making authority it will consider any legal limitations on decision-making authority, each parent’s history of participation in decision-making, each parents ability and willingness to cooperate with one another when making decisions regarding the child and how close the parents live to each other keeping in mind whether the distance will make it difficult to make timely mutual decisions.
A parenting plan will also include residential provisions regarding with which parent the child will live with and when. If the court must make this decision, it will consider several factors including:
- The child’s relationship with each parent with regards to the strength, nature and stability of this relationship;
- Whether the parents knowingly and voluntarily included residential provisions in their parenting plan;
- Each parent’s past parenting functions and responsibilities regarding the child’s daily needs as well as future potential performance of these responsibilities;
- The child’s emotional needs and stage of development;
- The child’s relationship with siblings and other significant people in their life along with the child’s involvement in school and other significant activities;
- The parent’s wishes and the child’s wishes; and
- Each parent’s work schedule
If it is in the best interests of the child, it is possible that the court will order that the child alternate living with each parent for brief and mostly equal intervals of time depending on how close the parents live to one another and their ability to share parenting functions.
Learn more about parenting plans in Washington
Parents in King County going through a divorce they naturally want to protect their child as much as possible and help their child adjust to the new normal post-divorce. Parenting plans should reflect each parent’s commitment to raising their child even though they are no longer married. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on child custody may be of interest to those who want to learn more about their rights and options.