Parenting plans provide the rule book for residential time, decision making, transportation and special considerations for each child.  Parents and children must abide by their parenting plan. Parents may, and are encouraged to, create a plan on their own when going through a divorce or parentage. If parents are not able to agree, then the court will determine a parenting plan. All parenting plans must be based on the child’s best interest.

Parenting Plans in Washington

The court encourages parents to come to a mutually acceptable agreement regarding residential time for children.  Sometimes people refer to this as child custody or visitation, but the court and statutes talk about the children’s residential time with parents. The agreement must include a complete parenting plan. In the plan, the parents will decide the child’s primary residence, as well as where the child will spend weekends, holidays, birthdays, and vacations, and how decisions are made.

The court must approve the plan before it becomes a binding court order. If there’s a dispute, the court will figure out a plan that’s in the child’s best interests. In doing so, the court will consider a number of issues including:

  • each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s basic needs;
  • the effect of living with either parent on the child;
  • distance between the parents; and
  • the child’s wishes if deemed old enough and of adequate maturity.

Decision Making in Washington

Most parenting plans give joint decision making regarding major issues. This means both parents make important decisions in the child’s life together. This includes medical, education, and religious decisions.

The parenting plan may award primary residential care of a child to one parent and regular residential time to another. In some cases, a parenting plan may provide an equal split where the child spends half of his time with one parent and half with the other. But in most cases, the child lives primarily with one parent and visits the other on weekends, holidays, etc.

In some circumstances, residential time needs be restricted in order to protect a child.  The court may restrict a parent’s time with the child if, for example,

  • the parent willfully abandoned the child for some amount of time;
  • the parent has demonstrated a pattern of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse;
  • the parent has been engaged in domestic violence; or
  • the parent has alcohol or substance abuse problems.

These issues could also affect whether the court grants custody – primary physical or shared residential time, visitation, or decision making authority – to a particular parent. An attorney can address these concerns whether the other parent levels these allegations against you or whether you allege the other parent is not able to safely parent.

Deno Millikan Law Firm Can Help with PARENTING Matters

If you are going through a divorce or otherwise need to establish custody or residential time in a parenting plan in Everett, Washington, an attorney can protect your rights and advocate for the best interests of your child. Call Deno Millikan at (425) 259-2222 or contact us online to set up a consultation to review the specifics of your case. We work with parents with various family law concerns in the Everett area.

Related Resources