Clients who reach out to an attorney as they begin a divorce or custody case often want to know if there’s anything that they can do to help their position when it comes to custody. Child custody is often the most stressful part of a divorce. Most people who are in the process of ending their marriage still want as much time with their children as possible.
The Best Interests of the Children
Washington’s custody laws direct judges to consider the best interests of the children when they decide custody and parenting time matters. The courts look at whether each parent is able to have a close and positive relationship with the children. They look at each parent’s ability to provide the children with the necessities of life such as food, shelter, education and health care.
Even though child support is available, the court considers whether each parent can provide for the children financially. A family law attorney such as the team of Anderson Hunter attorneys at http://www.andersonhunterlaw.com/personal/family_law can help explain how the law might apply in your case. Knowing how the law applies can help you make wise decisions as your case progresses.
Be On Your Best Behavior
When you’re hoping to make your case for shared or primary physical custody, it’s important to take every single opportunity that you have to spend time with your children. Make sure that your children get to school, and that they’re on time. If a child is sick, make sure that they go to the doctor. If you don’t have a job, it’s time to find one.
Now is not the time to give the court any reason to doubt your ability to exercise sound judgment and prioritize your child’s needs. Now is not the time to commit any crimes or drive after consuming alcohol. It’s not the time to quit a job. It’s not a good idea to move in a new significant other especially if that person has a criminal history or known use of illegal substances.
Be Respectful and Professional with Your Co-Parent
Parents wanting to win shared or primary custody need to show that they can work well with the other parent. That means that it’s important to maintain a professional tone in any communication with the other parent. Reply to messages from the other parent promptly. Never call the other parent names or denigrate the other parent to the child. The other parent might look for any opportunity to criticize you to the court. Don’t give them that opportunity.
A child has a right to a close relationship with each parent. The judge tries to find a parenting plan that encourages the child’s relationship with both parents. The plan should include plans to transport the child between parents. The court wants to make a plan that keeps the child involved in their school and their community. Any plan that you propose to the court should take these things into account.
The Child’s Preference
If a child is old enough to express a preference, the court can take the child’s preference into account. If a child wants to give their opinion, the judge can talk to the child in their office or chambers. The court has to make a record of the interview and make the interview a part of the court record.