Child custody tips for Spokane parents

For married couples with children, oftentimes the most difficult part of marriage dissolution is arranging the custody of children.

A national news column recently published several tips that Spokane parents may find useful if they are going through a child custody proceeding.

The list included some of the following:

• Know your rights: Many parents have the misconception that the mother is automatically given custody after a divorce, which is not true. Custody laws are gender neutral. Throughout the U.S., fathers are awarded custody 50 percent of the time.

• Remain involved in your child’s life: In Washington, shared residential schedules in which children switch week-to-week between their parents’ individual homes is not usually favored. Instead, a primary residential parent is usually determined. The parent who was most involved in the children’s upbringing prior to the dissolution usually has the advantage in a custody case. This parent is the primary caregiver.

• Be careful with your image: Do not participate in inappropriate text messages, e-mails or voice recordings that will show an impulsive, unstable or negative image of yourself.

• Address drug, alcohol or other problems: If you have a substance abuse problem, seek treatment immediately. Even moderate use of drugs or alcohol may affect a judge’s opinion.

• Respect the other parent, and the child: If one parent demeans the other or hinders the child’s relationship with the other parent, the judge may look down on this behavior.

• Control your anger: Going through a divorce can make even the most calm-mannered person very edgy. Do not engage in outbursts in front of the judge, your future ex-spouse’s attorney, or anyone who may be called to testify. If your temper is a real problem, do seek counseling.

• Find an experienced attorney: Research family law attorneys who are experienced in child custody cases. It is important to have such an advocate on your side in order to avoid the above-mentioned mistakes and present your case to the judge in a professional manor.

Source: Huffington Post, “How To Lose Child Custody,” Jacqueline Harounian, Esq., Dec. 12, 2011