Custody Lawyer Gig Harbor, WA
If you and your child’s other parent are no longer together, even if you aren’t yet sure that you’re going to formally divorce, it’s important to speak with a custody lawyer Gig Harbor, WA residents trust, and to do so as soon as you can. Child custody arrangements need to be made formally in the event of separation, legal separation, and divorce. Without an enforceable child custody order, your rights and your child’s well-being will not be as protected legally as they should be. This is true whether your split is amicable or contentious, whether you’re hoping to share custody or seek sole custody of your child(ren).
Seeking Sole Custody of a Child – Considerations
If you are thinking about seeking sole custody of your child, you’ll need to present strong evidence to the court that this arrangement is in your child’s best interests. Unless your child’s other parent consents to this arrangement, you may have a tough legal road ahead. Securing sole custody of a child when the other parent also wants to share custody or seek sole custody isn’t generally an easy process. Certainly, our Gig Harbor, Washington custody lawyer team will help you build the strongest case possible. But it’s important that you understand “from go” that securing sole custody of a child in a contentious process is challenging.
Family law judges are bound by the “best interest of the child” standard. This means that, no matter what your custody arrangement is, it will not be approved by the court unless the judge assigned to your case believes that the arrangement is in your child’s best interest. You’ll need to approach your case, at every single juncture, with this standard in mind.
It’s also important to understand that while terminology varies according to each state’s law, there are generally two kinds of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody concerns where and with whom your child lives. Legal custody concerns which parent or parents are legally entitled to make major decisions about a child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing, etc. Depending on your circumstances, you may be granted partial/joint or sole custody of your child in either or both categories.
Fighting the Custody Battle for You
Fighting for custody of your children can be exhausting. There are many factors to consider because you want to make sure your children are getting the proper care and love they need growing up, getting a good education, living in a safe environment, and getting attention and love from both parents, if possible. However, when each parent thinks they know what is best for the children, custody battles can turn ugly, and often the children’s needs are not thought of as much as the parents’ wants. When you work with an attorney from our office, you are getting someone who will walk you through the custody battle, put your child’s needs at the front of the conversation, and discuss the best options with you.
How can creating a parenting plan help?
Many couples would like to avoid the courtroom as much as possible, at the very least to avoid the stress and the legal fees. If you and your children’s other parent can at least agree to try and work things out away from the courtroom, we may be able to come up with a parenting plan that works for everyone involved. Once we have established that both parents can offer safe places for the children (and that we are not dealing with instances of abuse or neglect), we can create a parenting plan that is legally binding which states how long each parent has custody of the children. This will also include important information regarding the children’s upbringing:
- Where the children will go to school
- What kinds of medical decisions need to be made
- What after school activities they can participate in
- What their moral and religious upbringing will be
Does this parenting plan include mediation?
Mediation can be a part of the parenting plan if you both decide it is the right move. If you split up amicably and can easily come to an agreement on the parenting plan, mediation will not be necessary, However, if you are both arguing about different aspects of the parenting plan and there is no resolution in sight, a mediator can be extremely helpful. They will sit down with everyone and attempt to come to a solution as an unbiased, third-party. While attorneys do not have to be present during mediation, it can be helpful to have your attorney there if you think that your rights will be overlooked or if you believe that you are not getting enough time with your children.
Child Custody Guidance Is Available
Every family’s situation is unique. As a result, it’s important to speak with the experienced Washington legal team at Robinson & Hadeed before making any assumptions – for better or for worse – about your child custody case. When you schedule a consultation with our firm, you’ll be able to ask questions, voice concerns, and alert us to your goals for your situation. Once we’ve advised you of your legal options, you’ll be able to make an informed decision concerning how you’d like to proceed. Consultations are confidential and don’t obligate you to take any action whatsoever, so there is no reason to hesitate. Call an experienced Gig Harbor, Washington custody lawyer at our firm today; we look forward to speaking with you.
Right of First Refusal
When parents of a child are splitting up, whether they are legally married or not, the state of Washington requires the parents to come up with a parenting plan that will address all custody issues and parenting time. This agreement should include which days of the week the child will be with each parent, which parent the child will spend each holiday, school vacations, summers, and any other times that need to be addressed. While some parenting plans leave each parent with an almost equal amount of parenting time, other plans may leave one parent with significantly less time. Whatever type of plan you have, you will want to make sure that your plan includes the right of first refusal. The following is a brief overview of how this works. For more detailed information, contact a custody lawyer Gig Harbor, WA parents recommend from Robinson & Hadeed.
Under the right of first refusal, a parent has the right to gain additional parenting time if the other parent cannot fulfill their commitment, whether because of work commitments, personal commitments, health issues, etc. For example, let’s say the child is scheduled to be with the mother, but her employer is sending her out of town on a business trip. The parenting plan these parents have contains the right of first refusal, so the mother is required to notify the father to see if he would like their child to stay with him during this period that is not normally his parenting time.
If the father can’t take the child, then the mother can ask a well-trusted individual to care for the child while she is gone. If the parents did not have the right of first refusal, the mother is under no obligation to ask the father and can have someone else take care of the child and there is nothing the father can do.
While right of first refusal may not really be an issue for co-parents who get along, it is a particularly important stipulation to include in a parenting plan if the parents have difficulty communicating with each other. Every parenting plan should have one, even for parents who are friendly. As a seasoned Gig Harbor, WA custody lawyer can explain, that friendliness can quickly turn into acrimony when parents are divorce.
How Should Right of First Refusal Be Stipulated?
Every parenting situation is different, so it is up to parents to decide how their right of refusal should be applied. Some of the factors that parents should consider include:
- How long will a parent need to be away from the child in order for right of first refusal to apply?
- How much notice does the parent who will be gone need to give the other parent if offering right of first approval?
- How long does the other parent have to accept or decline the additional parenting time?
- What will the transportation arrangements for the child be during right of refusal parenting times?
How To Explain Your Divorce to Your Children
Getting a divorce is difficult. These difficulties are only compounded when children are involved. You will need to work with a custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, to find a good custody plan. It can still be difficult for you to process even if you find a suitable plan with your ex.
You may not be seeing your children as often, and you’ll have to adjust to a custody schedule. Despite all the changes, you are still a parent to your children. The professionals at Robinson & Hadeed Family Law can help you transition to your new life.
The first step in that transition is explaining your divorce to your children. There are a few helpful ways to go about this process.
Explain You Are Still a Family
This will be a transitional time for everyone. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you can offer your children stability. You and your ex may not be spouses anymore, but you will always be your children’s parents.
Emphasize that point to your kids. Let them know that no one is going away forever. Things will be different, but you will still be a family. You both will still attend your kids’ games, graduations, and eventually, weddings.
Don’t Lie And Don’t Blame
The Robinson & Hadeed Law firm knows that nailing down a custody agreement can be difficult. You and your ex may get heated during negotiations. This can cause resentment even after your custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, has found an agreeable custody plan.
Make sure that you don’t carry any resentment over to your children. They love both you and your spouse. You can be honest about why you two broke up. However, don’t push undue blame on your ex.
Children can pick up on tensions between their two parents. This can cause stress. That is why it is important to be truthful. However, be as fair as possible in the process.
If Possible, Break the News Together
Explain this news to the children together. This will prove that you two are united as co-parents. Your kids can see you come together for these important situations.
However, you should only explain the news together if you and your ex are civil. It may be best to do it separately you think an argument could happen in front of your kids. This can be a very stressful time for them. Make these transitions as smooth as you can.
Seven Misconceptions About Child Custody
I Have To Go to Court if There’s a Custody Disagreement
It’s not always necessary to go to court if there’s a custody disagreement. You can negotiate with each other directly or through your lawyers. You could go to mediation or arbitration instead. Of course, if none of those work, then you may be back in front of the judge again. Your custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, from Robinson & Hadeed Family Law can help you navigate through the process.
The Parent Who Leaves Forfeits Child Custody
This is simply not true. Both parents have an equal chance of being awarded some level of custody of the children. Parental obligations don’t end because someone moved out of the house.
Mothers Always Receive Full Custody
This was more true in the past than it is now. Courts these days recognize that both parents matter in children’s lives, and award custody accordingly. More and more divorcing parents are awarded joint physical and legal custody of their children. Your custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, can help represent you if you have to go to court for a custody hearing.
Only Parents Can Get Custody of a Child
If neither parent is deemed fit to have custody of a child, the grandparents or other relatives may be able to petition the court for custody. If you’re a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle or another close relative, and you want custody of the children in your life, speak with a Robinson & Hadeed Family Law custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA, as soon as possible.
A Child Can Choose Which Parent To Live With
Children can express a preference to the judge in chambers, but the judge is under no obligation to grant the child’s request. The judge will take into account the child’s age and maturity, as well as the child’s reason for wanting to live with one parent over the other.
The Custodial Parent Will Always Receive Support
If the custodial parent earns substantially more than the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent may not receive any child support. The court will keep the best interests of the children at the core of its decisions, but will also take into account each parent’s circumstances.
I Can Deny Visitation if the Other Parent Hasn’t Paid Child Support
Child support and visitation are two entirely different entities. Non-payment of child support does not give you the right to withhold visitation from the child’s other parent. Doing so could land you in hot water with the court.
3 Considerations When Fighting for Custody
No matter the reason you and your spouse have decided to separate, arrangements have to be made for your children. If the divorce isn’t amicable, you’ll need the help of a child custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA to ensure that your children are protected and that the resulting agreement is enforceable.
Sole Custody Versus Joint Custody
Generally, sole custody is more difficult to seek out than joint custody. If your separation is contentious, your spouse may also want shared or sole custody of the children, which means each of you will be building a case against the other, making it even more important that you have an experienced lawyer guiding you.
Physical Custody Versus Legal Custody
Custody can be split into two additional categories: physical and legal. Legal custody refers to who is responsible for a child’s life decisions, including education and medical treatment. Physical custody simply refers to which parent the child lives with. Depending on the circumstances, a judge could award partial or sole custody in either category, so having a custody lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA lay out your options for you can be extremely valuable.
A judge will look at a variety of factors in a contentious case before deciding what the resulting custody agreement will be. First and foremost, a judge will take a look at the various relationships within the family. The spouse who has a stronger relationship with their children is far more likely to be granted full custody. A judge may even take the children’s preference into account, particularly if they are fourteen years of age or older. The parent will also have to have sufficient mental and physical health to be able to care for the children. It is unlikely a judge will award sole custody to a parent who suffers from a mental disorder or physical impairment that could put the children in danger. Then, a judge will assess the amount of time each parent will be able to give their children. Parental attention and guidance is an essential part of any child’s upbringing, and if a parent’s work schedule or living situation does not allow for sufficient time, it could make it less likely that a judge will award custody.
All these factors will be weighed differently depending on the judge. With the help of a custody lawyer in Gig Arbor, WA, you’ll be able to make the best case for yourself and retain custody of your children.
Do You Need a Parenting Plan?
If you are going through a breakup and have children, it is critical to file for legal custody and have a parenting plan in place, no matter how cordial the breakup. Call Robinson & Hadeed to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a custody lawyer in Gig, WA, and find out what your legal options may be.