Child Custody

Child custody is often the most highly-contested part of a divorce, modification, relocation, or third-party child custody case. In Washington, a court order known as a “Parenting Plan” addresses a child’s residential schedule. Under Washington law, the court must make sure the agreement is in the child’s best interests, and that it provides a highly detailed residential schedule both parties must follow.

In any child custody matter, it is imperative that your attorney presents a complete picture to your assigned judge. At David J. Crouse & Associates, our attorneys understand the need to present high quality declarations and oral arguments to the court on your behalf. We provide the advice and representation our clients need during their child custody case, and pursue the positive outcome that best suits their particular situation.

To speak with a child custody lawyer in Spokane, call 509-624-1380.

What types of child custody cases does David J. Crouse & Associates accept?

There are several types of custody arrangements that you and the other parent may agree upon, or that a judge may order, in a custody case.

In many custody cases, the judge grants the designated custodial parent more than 50 percent of the parenting time in a year.

Parents, or the judge, can divide this time in several ways.  Some plans have a week on/week off schedule.  Other plans have a schedule where the school week is shared and weekends are alternated.  Changes are often made to the summer schedule and other school break schedules to allow for even longer periods of shared time.

If there are deficiencies in a spouse’s parenting skills or commitment, the court can limit residential time for that parent. The court could order one parent to have limited contact, supervised contact, or even no contact at all. Limitations might also include a loss of decision-making abilities.

Custody is one of the most heated aspects of a divorce, and parents may find it hard to compromise. Our team of family law attorneys is here to help. We have an extensive background in all areas of Washington child custody and can facilitate any type of custody case including:

  • Custody and visitation in divorce cases
  • Relocation and interstate custody
  • Third-party custody
  • Modification of custody
  • Temporary agreements
  • Cases involving abuse or neglect
  • Unmarried parents
  • Paternity disputes
  • Failure to comply with parenting plan
  • Mediation and litigation

What factors can affect a custody case?

When the parents agree on all of the terms of parenting rights and visitation during a divorce, one of the attorneys can draw up a parenting plan for the judge’s review and approval. When parents cannot reach terms, the judge must review all the facts of the case and determine what is in the best interests of the child.

During custody proceedings, the judge looks at various issues that can affect the life of the child. Below are just some of the factors, listed in RCW § 26.09.187(3) that a judge will consider:

  • “The relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • The agreements of the parties, provided each party entered them knowingly and voluntarily
  • Each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting functions
  • The emotional needs and developmental level of the child
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and with other significant adults, as well as the child’s involvement with his or her physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities
  • The wishes of the parents and the wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to his or her residential schedule
  • Each parent’s employment schedule”

The court will also examine each parent’s desire to compromise with the other parent and any risk factors present, such as domestic violence, child abuse, and chemical dependence, and consider how these issues could potentially affect residential time.

What types of provisions are included in parenting plans?

A parenting plan can be as detailed and personalized as the parents so choose. Some of the basic provisions that most parenting plans contain include:

  • The visitation schedule, including for the school year, vacations, holidays, and special occasions, as well as backup plans
  • Transportation arrangements
  • Relocation terms
  • Child care arrangements
  • Which parent makes major decisions such as education decisions and religious upbringing
  • How the parties will settle any disputes that arise
  • How the parties allocate expenses for dispute settlement

We can help you devise a proposed parenting plan appropriate for your family. After setting forth the basics, we can include any other topics of importance.

For example, you might want to specify how to handle issues such as curfews, guidelines about entertainment such as R-rated movies, and cell phone use for your teenager. Or perhaps you want to include details about vaccinations, allergies, and sleeping arrangements for your baby.

Whatever the case may be, David J. Crouse and Associates can help. Our lawyers place top priority on getting to know our clients and the issues that are most important to them. We will take the time to understand your situation so that we can advocate on your behalf and help you get the best decision for you and your family.

Do you need a lawyer for your child custody case in Spokane?

It is highly recommended to have a lawyer assist you with your custody case because not only can the legal process be very frustrating and confusing, but your time with your children is at stake. You want to make sure your case is well-prepared and well-documented. Having a determined, well-informed attorney facilitate your case can be invaluable and will afford you the best opportunity for a successful outcome.

We ensure each client thoroughly understands both the strengths and weaknesses of his/her particular case in order to enable our clients to make the best custody and parenting plan decisions. For more than twenty years, our firm has built a reputation of success in representing clients involved in Washington divorce and family law matters, including all cases involving child custody.

If you need assistance with any family law action involving child custody, call our firm to schedule a no-obligation consultation appointment: 509-624-1380.

David J. Crouse & Associates