Protecting Your Children By Creating A Tailored Parenting Plan
If you have minor children born of your relationship or marriage but are no longer parenting in the same household, sorting out how to parent your children while living apart may seem daunting. Most of the time, both parents want what is best for their children, but you may not be on the same page about what that looks like.
At Meridian Family Law, we can help you work through custody-related issues and negotiate or litigate a parenting plan that makes sense for your children. You can benefit from our lawyers’ decades of experience with Washington family law. We are highly skilled at understanding issues that affect parents and children, creative problem-solving, working with parenting experts, and utilizing tools like mediation and a Collaborative approach to craft thoughtful, tailored plans that provide support and stability for kids. We are committed to protecting you and your children’s best interests in both the short and long term.
Understanding Parenting Plans In Washington
In Washington, the child custody document that is required by the court is referred to as a parenting plan. It addresses parenting time (residential schedule) as well as the care and decision-making related to the children, including:
- Parenting/residential schedule: There are numerous possible residential time arrangements. Finding the right one is a matter of determining what works best for your children and you. This often depends on your children’s ages, their involvement with the other parent, and both parents’ work-life demands. Parenting plans can involve some flexibility – for example, you can designate a different schedule for the summer when the kids are out of school. The primary purpose of the plan is to provide consistency and stability so that children (and parents) know where they will be and when, and the parents know how decisions affecting their children are to be made.
- Summer/holidays/special occasions: The parenting plan addresses schedules for the summer, holidays, birthdays and other special occasions.
- Decision-making: The parenting plan should specify who has decision-making authority for the children’s education, medical/health, childcare, etc. If both parents are fit to make major decisions, joint decision-making is generally appropriate.
- Dispute resolution: You can determine what method to use for resolving any disagreements on major issues – for example, utilizing the services of a parenting coach, or going to mediation or arbitration.
- Transportation: Parenting plans also explain how children are to be transported for the exchange between parents and where that will occur. Determining reasonable locations for exchanges and who will be transporting the children reduces confusion and streamlines setting your own family schedule as a single parent.
- Relocation: Special requirements apply if a parent wants to relocate with the children outside of the school district in which the children live – this applies even to children who are not yet in school or attend private school. These requirements are based on Washington statute and are summarized and explained in a parenting plan.
- Other provisions: Many parents find it helpful to add other provisions to their parenting plans, such as how they will provide notification about travel, illnesses and other matters that affect the children, having established times for phone calls between the children and their other parent, each parents’ attendance at sports and school functions, etc.
We know that no two families are the same. Children have unique needs, and some children have special needs. We can help you develop a thorough parenting plan that is custom-tailored to your situation – something you can feel good about, and, in turn, your kids can feel good about.
Discuss Your Parenting Plan Concerns Today
Learn more about how our attorneys can help you craft the right parenting plan for your children. We are dedicated advocates and thoughtful advisers. Call 206-569-5346 or send us an email to get started.