The state of Washington refers to custody and visitation issues as issues that fall under a parenting plan. As such, “child custody” is not used in legal terminology in Washington. Instead, the courts will either approve or create a parenting plan that the parents must follow. Parenting plans establish guidelines for issues like visitation, living arrangements, decision-making, and other matters such as grandparent visitation rights. It is possible to amend the parenting plan, either through cooperation between parents or via court intervention.
When it comes to deciding parental responsibility in Washington state, the courts must determine what is in the best interest of the child. Current family law holds that the best parenting plans are those which split responsibility down the middle and allows both parents to parent their child. This assumes both parents are willing and able to cooperate.
Unfortunately, certain factors can complicate this. Severe animosity between two parents may result in an inability to come to terms with a reasonable parenting plan. Other things, such as one party attempting to sabotage the other, or differences in availability, living space, financial resources and so on, may sway parental responsibility. Understanding how parenting plans are established, and what courts consider when approving them, can help you better understand your chances in a Washington child custody case.