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HOME   State Custody Excerpts
State of Washington
RCW 26.10.100
Determination of custody -- Child's best interests.
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child.

CHILD CUSTODY: Joint or sole child custody will be determined according to the best interests of the child. Every petition for dissolution of marriage in which a minor child is involved must include a proposed parenting plan. The parents may make an agreement regarding a parenting plan.

The objectives of the parenting plan are to: (1) provide for the child's physical care; (2) maintain the child's emotional stability; (3) provide for the child's changing needs, as the child grows and matures, in a way that minimizes the need for future modifications; (4) set out the authority and responsibility of each parent; (5) minimize the child's exposure to harmful parental conflict; (6) encourage the parents to reach agreements rather than go to court; and (7) otherwise protect the best interests of the child.

The parenting plan should contain provisions for (1) dispute resolution; (2) a residential schedule for the child; (3) allocation of decision-making authority relating to the child.

The factors which are considered in determining decision-making authority are: (1) if both parents agree to mutual decision-making; (2) the existence of any physical or sexual child or spouse abuse, neglect or abandonment; (3) the history of participation of each parent in the decision-making process; (4) whether the parents have demonstrated an ability and desire to cooperate in the decision-making process; (5) the parents geographical proximity to each other, to the extent that it would affect their ability to make timely mutual decisions.ons.

The factors which are considered in determining residential provisions for the child are: (1) the strength, nature, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent, including the parent's performance of daily parental functions; (2) any spouse or child abuse or neglect or substance abuse; (3) the history of participation of each parent in child-rearing; (4) the wishes of the parents; (5) the wishes of the child, if of sufficient age and maturity to express an opinion; (6) the child's relationship with siblings and other significant family members; (7) any agreement between the parties; and (8) each parent's employment schedule. Factor (1) is to be given the most weight. A mandatory settlement conference may be required.

Equal-time alternating residential provisions will only be ordered if: (1) there is no child or spouse abuse, neglect, or abandonment, or substance abuse; (2) the parents have agreed to such provisions; (3) there is a history of shared parenting and cooperation; (4) the parents are available to each other, especially in terms of geographic location; and (5) the provisions are in the best interests of the child. The court may order an investigation concerning parenting arrangements for the child. [Revised Code of Washington Annotated; Title 26, Chapters 26.09.181 - 26.09.220].

1) SUBMISSION OF PROPOSED PLANS. (a) In any proceeding under this chapter, except a modification, each party shall file and serve a proposed permanent parenting plan on or before the earliest date of:
     (i) Thirty days after filing and service by either party of a notice for trial; or
    (ii) One hundred eighty days after commencement of the action which one hundred eighty day period may be extended by stipulation of the parties.


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