Child Custody Lawyers in Lynnwood, Everett, and Kent
If you are or thinking about getting divorced in Washington or leaving your partner and there are children involved, the experienced child custody attorney teams at Feldman & Lee PS in Everett, Lynnwood, and Kent are here to help. We will ensure the best interests of your children and their rights are protected as you move through your child custody case. Our support, legal resources, expertise and compassion will be available to you so you and your children receive an equitable and just resolution for your case.
Child Custody Cases May be Complex
When a relationship ends and there are children involved, parents have to determine how much time the children will spend with each parent and where the children will live. In some situations, custody issues are relatively simple and handled through mediation, during which a neutral third party helps the parents reach agreements. In other, more complex situations, the issues of child custody have to be addressed in court so the judge can identify what is in the children’s best interests and make custody decisions based on his or her findings.
Our child custody lawyer team understands that the well-being and health of your children are your main priorities. If you are thinking about divorce or ending a relationship with your children’s other parent and need legal guidance to help protect your family’s future, contact Feldman & Lee PS about your case. We will review your circumstances and provide you with an honest and realistic picture of your case and how it may play out, in addition to explaining all your options so you can make the most informed choices possible.
Understanding Washington Custody Laws
In Washington, the residential schedule of a child and other parental responsibilities and rights are usually addressed in a court order known as a parenting plan. This plan is determined by agreement between both parents or created by the court, usually with the guidance of a child custody attorney. By law, the court is responsible for ensuring that the parenting plan serves the children’s best interests. In many cases, it is best for the parents to be able to come to the parenting plan agreement via mediation or discussions. If the plan is decided by the court, it may leave both parents feeling very unsatisfied with the result because the judge is making those major life-changing decisions for them.
A custodial parent is the person the children live with most of the time. The noncustodial parent usually keeps his or her parental rights under the plan, including the right to spend time with the children and make or have input in decisions made regarding them, regardless of the custodial designations in the plan.
Keep in mind that parent-child relationships have an impact on parental rights granted. Instances of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, alcohol or drug abuse, and other factors that can negatively harm the best interests of the children will have an impact on the child custody case and its eventual outcome. If any of these circumstances apply to your case, be sure to speak to the experienced team at Feldman & Lee PS as soon as possible.
Many factors impact the court’s weighing of custody, including:
- Relationship: The strength of your children’s bonds with each of you is considered, including stability and nature.
- Cooperation: The ability of each parent to work with one another is evaluated, particularly in cases that are very contentious. Courts recognize that the child having a relationship with both parents is important, so a parent who is not cooperating can be viewed as a roadblock to that goal.
- Performance in the past: How well each parent has handled parenting responsibilities is considered, including how each parent met the child’s daily needs before the custody action.
- Needs of the child: Naturally, a child’s emotional and developmental needs come into play when custody is being decided.
- Other family relationships: Significant relationships the child may have with siblings, grandparents and other relatives are a factor, along with how involved the child is in school and other outside interests that could be impacted if the child has to move. Courts view stability as necessary for children and do not want to create an environment that doesn’t reflect that stability.
- The wishes of parents (and mature children): The wishes of parents are heard in custody cases, and older children who are judged mature enough to weigh in are heard, too.
- Parental work schedules: The employment schedules of the parents can be a factor if one parent’s job takes him or her out of town frequently or involves long hours and late days. If job schedule accommodations are needed, the parent will often have to make them happen if he or she wants primary custody.
Child Custody Modification is Possible
As the needs of a family change, so should their parenting plan. If there have been significant changes to your family since the parenting plan was created, you may be able to have the plan modified to reflect those changes. The same applies to the simple march of time; a plan that worked for your toddlers may not work so well for middle school children with different schedules. A child custody lawyer will help you draft a modification and submit it to the court for approval.
We Can Make a Difference in Your Child Custody Case
Our attorneys are experienced in cases that involve residential schedules, child custody and parenting plans. We have successfully represented many clients in divorce and other family matters, including agreed-on and contested child custody cases and parenting plan issues. We know these cases are typically very emotional and are of the utmost importance to our clients and their families, so we work diligently to ensure our clients can make safe and informed decisions in their specific cases.
If you are planning on filing for divorce, modifying a current parenting plan or taking on any other family law action that involves the custody of your children, please contact the team at Feldman & Lee PS.