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Understanding a parenting plan with child custody

When a couple in Gig Harbor decides to end a marriage, one of the more difficult issues that will arise has to do with children. Child custody is frequently a contentious issue, and the best intentions can spiral into an endless cycle of disagreements and outright fighting as to parenting time, visitation rights and any other issue that encompasses the maintenance of a relationship with children. A way to avoid the harshest disputes is to come up with a parenting plan. Understanding what a parenting plan is and what it is designed to do is key to a satisfactory resolution.

With a parenting plan, there will be a legal document that will have an explanation for all the arrangements that the parents will follow when it comes to child care, the living arrangements, decision making power and how any dispute will be settled. In Washington State, there is no use of the term "child custody." The parents are accorded shared responsibility of the child. In general, the child will reside with one parent for the bulk of the time with the other being granted visitation. In some cases, though, both parents will share the child equally.

The most important factor that the court will take into consideration is the child and his or her best interests. The state tries to encourage that the parents both take part in caring for the child and being part of his or her life.

When a couple ends their relationship or marriage, there will be an agreement as to where the children will live. This can be done voluntarily or the court can make the decision.

Factors taken into account include the child's well-being, emotional and developmental requirements, relationships with other members of the family, schooling and extracurricular activities. If the child is deemed to be of sufficient maturity, then his or her opinion as to the living arrangements can be weighed.

Those who are in the midst of a disagreement with children after ending their relationship must be cognizant of the multitude of factors that go into where the child will live and how the situation will be remedied under the law. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in family law litigation can help with trying to resolve a case amicably or dealing with the case, if there is a dispute as to the parenting time and visitation rights.

Source: Courts.Wa.gov, "Family Law Handbook -- Chapter 7 -- Shared Parenting for Divorcing Parents -- Parenting Plans," accessed on July 12, 2016

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