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What factors may be considered in a Washington parenting plan?

Divorce often brings some abrupt and often confusing changes to a young child's life. The child will go from living in a two-parent household to spending time with each parent separately instead. One important decision that will need to be made by the parents or the court in a parenting plan in Washington is where the child will live.

Sometimes parents are able to work out this issue by themselves, and if there is a voluntary agreement, it may be approved by the court. If the parents are unable to see eye-to-eye, it will be up to the court to determine where the child will reside. Either way, the primary basis for such a decision is the child's best interests.

Beyond the child's best interests, what are some other factors courts will consider when establishing a parenting plan? While each parenting plan is decided on a case-by-case basis, one factor that may be considered is the child's relationship with each parent, brothers and sisters. The child's needs -- both developmentally and emotionally -- may also be considered. After all, the needs of a teenager are very different from the needs of a toddler. A parent's ability both in the past and the future to carry out their parental responsibilities may also be considered. In addition, if the child has the maturity to have a preference of where to live, that may also be considered. In the end, the court will consider the ability of each parent to have a strong and stable relationship with his or her child.

Creating a parenting plan is not always easy. Both parents often want to protect their rights to their child at any cost. However, it is often in the best interests of the child for each parent to put their animosity aside and develop a workable parenting plan that respects the needs of both the parents and the child alike. This post cannot replace the advice of a dedicated attorney, so parents in Washington who want to learn more about parenting plans may want to seek legal assistance.

Source: courts.wa.gov, "Family Law Handbook," July 2014

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