Parenting Plan

Snohomish Parenting Plans

Create Structure and Progress for Your Children With the Help of 5-Star Rated Attorney, Walton Dabney 

For spouses with minor children, one of the biggest challenges in a divorce is deciding where and how the children will live. Will parents spend equal time with their children? How will they schedule their respective times? Should one parent be prevented or limited in their time with the children, and if so, why? 

Finding the best options for your children can be difficult. Putting those options into a clear plan both parents can agree upon can be even tougher. Attorney Wilton Dabney and the team at the Dabney Law Firm PLLC can help.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is sometimes known as a “custody arrangement.,” although that term is not the technically correct one in Washington. The parenting plan lays out in writing how parents will approach raising their children when they do not live together. 

Parenting plans are mandatory in Washington divorces and legal separations with kids. A parenting plan may also be created in connection with a petition to decide parentage or a case where a person has requested custody of a child that isn’t their own. 

A parenting plan is a court order. Parents listed in the parenting plan are expected to follow its rules. If they do not, they may face legal consequences if the court finds out.

Washington State Requirements for Parenting Plans

Washington parenting plans typically answer four questions:

  • Where will the child live? This question can also be phrased as “Which parent will have custody?”
  • How much time will the child spend with each parent? Parents may share time equally with a child, or one parent may have the child for more time than the other.
  • Who will make major decisions for the child? One or both parents may have the power to make decisions about medical care, education, and other major events in their child’s life.
  • How will the parents resolve disagreements? Parenting plans with dispute resolution mechanisms provide clear rules and boundaries for discussing any areas of conflict or contention. 

In a divorce or legal separation, either parent may request a parenting plan. Both parents also have the right to file a proposed parenting plan with the court. 

When evaluating a proposed parenting plan, a Washington court will consider whether the plan addresses the best interests of the child or children. This standard keeps the children’s needs and welfare at the top of the priority list while also allowing for flexibility in how those needs are met. 

What to Expect When Negotiating a Parenting Plan

Negotiating a parenting plan is a test of your ability to work as a co-parent with your partner, even if you have already determined you can no longer work together as spouses. As a result, parenting plan negotiations can be tense. 

A few key points to consider when negotiating a parenting plan:

  • A parenting plan doesn’t award custody. Custody decisions are made separately according to rules laid out in Washington law. The parenting plan schedules the time each parent spends with their children; which is not necessarily connected to each parent’s “custody” status. 
  • A parenting plan is a binding court order 一on both parents. If the other parent doesn’t abide by the parenting plan, you may not take matters into your own hands. Rather, you must follow the guidelines laid out in the parenting plan. 
  • A parenting plan is about your children. Many divorcing couples can agree that they want the best for their children even if they can not agree on anything else. Putting their children’s needs first while negotiating a parenting plan is crucial. Building the support you need through friends, therapy, community services, and other resources is essential. You are going to have a lot of feelings you need to process – you should try to do that outside of the parenting plan negotiations. If you do,, you will think clear-headedly about the best interests of your kids. 
  • If you don’t agree on a parenting plan, the court will make one for you. Court-created parenting plans try to fit the plan to the best interests of children. Yet the court’s ideas for a parenting plan may be a poor fit for your day-to-day life. There have been nightmare situations where the court orders a plan completely contrary to how both parents want their children to live… all because the parents could not agree. For this reason, it’s important to take every possible step to reach a workable agreement. 

Each parenting plan is unique to the parents and children for whom it is created. It’s essential to involve an experienced attorney to protect your rights and your children’s rights while creating a parenting plan. 

How the Right Snohomish Divorce Attorney Can Help You Create a Parenting Plan

Divorce doesn’t only change your life. It also changes the lives of your children. To provide them with the best possible foundation for their future, your children and you need a clear, organized parenting plan. 

If you’re considering divorce or have questions about how divorce will affect your children, talk to the team at the Dabney Law Firm PLLC today. We’ll answer your questions so that you can make an informed decision about your needs and your children’s future. Contact us today to learn more.


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