What to Include in a Parenting Plan
In matters of divorce, separation, or parentage, the family court in Washington will order that the parents of a minor child draft and submit a parenting plan to the court. The parenting plan is the single most important document when it comes to the custody, visitation, and the decision-making ability of each parent and the child. At the Hodgson Law Office in Spokane, our team of highly rated family law attorneys has zealously represented many clients throughout Washington state in the negotiation and creation of parenting plans for their families. To learn more about what to include in a parenting plan, call or contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What is a Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans can be issued temporarily while court proceedings are ongoing and permanently as part of a final decree. Technically, a parenting plan is a court order that dictates physical and legal custody, visitation, and how parents will work out major disagreements in the upbringing of their child. Family court judges strongly encourage parents to work out a parenting plan that works for everyone, which may occur as part of traditional litigation or in alternative dispute resolution, but if the parents cannot agree on the basic tenets of the parenting plan, the issue may go to trial. In that situation, the judge hears both sides and renders a ruling on one or more aspects of the parenting plan.
Determining Issues Based on the Best Interests of the Child
Decisions regarding a parenting plan made by the court are viewed through the lens of what is in the best interests of the child. The state recognizes the fundamental importance of the parent-child relationship, and the court will err on the side of maintaining the relationship between the child and each parent, unless that would be against child’s best interests.
The judge weighs a number of different factors dictated by Washington state law, and for permanent parenting plans can include the following:
- The strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent
- Each parent’s past and potential performance of parenting functions, such as whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing functions related to the daily needs of the child
- The emotional needs and development of the child
- The child’s relationship with siblings and with other significant adults
- The child’s involvement with their community, school, and other significant activities
- The wishes of the child if they are sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences
- Each parent’s employment schedule, and ability to make accommodations to their schedule
Some factors may be weighed more heavily than others, and an experienced family law attorney knows what the court looks for when making a “best interests” determination. This is why it is critical to hire a knowledgeable family law attorney as your advocate when creating or litigating a Washington state parenting plan.
What to Include in a Parenting Plan: Talk to Our Office Today
If you would like professional legal assistance with the negotiation and drafting of a parenting plan in your case, call the office or contact us in Spokane at the Hodgson Law Office today to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable Washington family law attorneys to discuss your legal options.