Child custody matters in Washington can be overwhelming, so it is essential to seek legal advice early in the child custody process. A child custody attorney has the skills, knowledge, and experience to help you maintain or gain custody of your child.
When to hire a child custody lawyer?
Hiring a family lawyer is not required, although it is advisable because it will likely be among the most important decisions you’ll ever make. It also helps keep children away from messy legal entanglements. Many situations will benefit from legal representation. These include –
- Abuse or domestic violence.
- The relationship with your co-parent has become difficult.
- A co-parent plans to move out of state or has hired a lawyer.
Washington Child Custody Laws
Child custody laws vary by state. In Washington, a court favors the parent who can provide the most stable home and care/supervision, whether married or not. The court also considers-
- The child’s age and decision-making capacity.
- The parents’ occupations and their ability to care for the child.
- The parents’ good/bad habits.
- Each parent’s living situation and the child’s relationship with each parent and their siblings.
Determining a Child’s Best Interest
The best interest of each child is paramount but different for each. This is why a judge decides which path would be easiest for a child based on the situation’s circumstances.
Can a Child Weigh in on a Custody Decision?
A Washington court will consider a child’s preference if a child is mature enough. This usually refers to children 12+.
Can a Parent Be Deemed Unfit In Washington?
Yes. An unfit parent fails to care for their child and, in doing so, endangers the child’s wellbeing. An unfit parent may be unable to provide financial support for food and shelter or possess a criminal history or substance abuse problem.
Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Washington State?
Child custody orders remain in place until the child becomes of age unless there is a revision to the court order or the child becomes emancipated. While there is no specific Washington law regarding a child’s refusal of visitation, the younger the child is, the more acceptable it is for a parent to enforce visitation orders.