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Washington Child Custody & Washington Child Support

UPDATED: February 27, 2020

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Just as family courts do around the nation, Washington family courts will always advocate for the best interests of the children involved in a divorce. The courts will strongly encourage the parents to work together to develop a parenting agreement that accounts for those interests of the children, and not their own. Ultimately, if the parents are unable to amicably come to such an agreement, Washington courts will step in to decide custody, support, and visitation issues. The following topics discuss laws governing Washington child custody and Washington child support.

Washington Child Custody:

The courts always make the custody award based on the best interests of the children. Each petition for dissolution that is filed must also include a comprehensive and detailed Permanent Parenting Plan, the objective of which is to minimize the trauma to the child that is inherent in marriage dissolution, and the provisions of which must detail how the plan supports the child�s best interests in the areas of school, physical care, traveling expenses, individual parental authority, and residence options and rules. The agreement must be voluntary so that one parent�s failure to comply with it doesn�t legally affect its validity as applied to the other parent, and so that the court can faithfully approve proper agreements.

Residence options are typically restricted at the court�s discretion, with frequent alternations between parents� residences being discouraged. The exceptions to this general rule are situations where abuse, abandonment, or harm are evident risks to the child, and also where both parties can demonstrate a solid record of cooperation and effective parenting performance despite or even because of the alternation.

Washington Child Support:

Child support in Washington is determined in accordance with the �Income Shares Model� for child support, where each parent�s income is considered in relative proportion. The support amounts calculated from each parent then help decide which parent must pay the other in order to maintain this proportion and provide for the needs of the child.

These guidelines are not always followed, but a decision to follow a different standard will require supportive evidence showing 1) all the factors that affect the parties� financial obligations in a different manner, and 2) how applying a different standard will more effectively preserve the best interests of the child.

Of course, a lawyer can help understand more thoroughly your rights and responsibilities in terms of raising children after divorce. A lawyer will also serve as your advocate and/or counsel when negotiating a parenting agreement. You can find a lawyer at:

Washington Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
Find an experienced Washington Divorce Attorney at
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