Do you have questions about parenting plans and how they are developed? Do you need help with a residential schedule? Speak with one of our Washington State child custody lawyers today to see how we can help.
In the vast majority of cases, parents will work together to develop a parenting plan with the help of their lawyer. There are times, however when the courts need to intervene and develop a plan for mothers and fathers who are unable to come to agreement. When this happens, the court will look at many factors to craft a workable arrangement. First and foremost the court will attempt to do what is in the best interests of the children.
The court does recognize the fundamental importance of the parent-child relationship and will do what it can to foster that relationship unless it is detrimental to the child. The court will work to maintain the child’s emotional stability, provide for the child’s changing needs as that child grows and matures to minimize the need for future modifications. The court may also consider the cultural heritage and the religious beliefs of the child.
In any case where a parenting plan is entered, both parents are required to take a four hour parent seminar. The goal of this seminar is to help mothers and fathers understand what their children are going through during this difficult time, and to help them deal with the divorce.
In many instances after a Petition for Dissolution is filed, temporary orders are entered. When there are children involved, a temporary parenting plan will be included in those orders. Unless a temporary plan is amended, it will remain in effect until a final one is entered by the court.
Temporary parenting plans can either be entered by agreement or upon request of either the mother or the father. The court will again consider what it believes to be in the “best interests of the child” when determining what the schedule should contain.
Will a Guardian ad Litem be needed?
Occasionally the court will need to have detailed investigation to help them determine what the best parenting plan is. The court will then appoint a Guardian ad Litem. Guardian ad Litems are often described as the “eyes and ears” of the court outside the court room.
The Guardian ad Litem will be required to investigate the living situation of the child and will speak with each parent. They will usually contact other people in the child’s life, including but not limited to teachers, doctors, other family members and family friends. The Guardian ad Litem may also speak with the children if they believe them to be old enough to coherently discuss their opinions about their living situations.
After their investigation is done the Guardian ad Litem will make a recommendation to the court about what they believe is the best parenting plan for the child. The court usually gives great deference to the recommendations of the Guardian ad Litem. A Guardian ad Litem is paid and that cost is usually shared between the parents.
Will there be restrictions in parenting plan?
There are a number of circumstances under which a parent’s time with their child may be limited to completely withheld. If a parent has engaged in conduct that could be harmful to the child then RCW 26.09.191 will apply.
These are often called “191” restrictions. “Harmful conduct” can include, but is certainly not limited to, domestic violence as defined in RCW 26.50.010, drug or alcohol abuse, physical or sexual abuse of their partner or the child, abandonment of the child, neglect or substantial non-performance of parenting functions, abusive use of conflict or withholding the child from the other parent for a protracted period without good cause. Contact our parenting plan attorneys in Washington State for more information regarding these restrictions.
Restrictions in a parenting plan may include limited, supervised or no visitation depending on the nature of the conduct of the parent. The court may also require a parent to engage in alcohol or drug evaluations, domestic violence assessments, and or parenting classes. A plan containing restrictions will also restrict a parent’s input in making decisions for their children.
Modifications - Washington State child custody lawyers can help if there has been a change in your circumstances.
Once a plan has been entered, the court will favor keeping it in place. If a parent wishes to modify it, they must establish with the court that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” since the entry of the previous arrangement. If they can show that there has been a change in circumstances since the previous order was entered, then the court may enter a new temporary order and/or appoint a Guardian ad Litem to make recommendations. Call our Washington State child custody lawyers today if your circumstances have changed, and you need to make modifications to your parenting plan. Your first consultation with our Washington parenting plan lawyers is free.
Our office is a family-oriented office. Our Washington parenting plan attorneys work with you to set realistic expectations and to help guide them in setting up a plan that is in the best interests of the children.
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