According to a recent Pew Research Center study, approximately 23% of children in the United States, under 18 years of age, live in single-parent households. In every divorce case, determining child custody rights remain a vital concern. If you are considering a divorce or amidst the divorce process, consulting with a knowledgeable Washington child custody attorney is crucial for proper guidance.
Attorney William E. Morgan is dedicated to offering experienced and comprehensive legal services in divorce and child custody-related matters. He will advise you about your options and provide the detailed guidance and advocacy you need to establish or modify child custody arrangements. As an experienced Washington family law attorney, he will fight to protect your rights and your family's best interest.
William E. Morgan proudly serves clients throughout Grays Harbor County, Washington, and the surrounding communities of Montesano, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, and Pacific County.
When establishing a parenting plan, Washington courts make it a priority to protect the child's welfare and best interest. Parents have two options for establishing a parenting plan arrangement:
Uncontested: This requires both parents to work together to decide mutually acceptable custody terms and present them to the court for approval. This option remains the quickest, cost-effective, and most painless method of establishing a parenting plan whenever possible. Also, the uncontested option provides both parents with more control over the final outcome. A knowledgeable attorney can help to keep the conversation productive.
Contested: In a situation where parents are unable to agree on custody terms, the case will be brought before a family court. The presiding judge will establish a custody arrangement using their own judgment while protecting the child's best interest. A child custody attorney can help present your case and give you the best chance of arriving at the parenting plan that is best for your family and future.
Pursuant to Washington Revised Code Section 26.09.181, et seq., a parenting plan should include or specify:
The parent that the child will live with and where
The amount of time the child will spend with each parent
The parent responsible for making major decisions regarding the child
How major disagreements and future issues will be resolved between the divorcing parents
When establishing a parenting plan, the primary concern of the Washington courts is protecting the child's best interest. In doing this, the presiding judge will consider the following:
The parent's ability to maintain a stable and loving relationship with the child
The ability of the parent to provide for the basic needs of the child
The parent's ability to be a part of the child's educational needs
The ability of the parent to make informed decisions and exercise good judgment
The parent's ability to provide adequate financial support to the child
Pursuant to Washington Revised Code Section 26.09.260, the court shall not modify a prior custody decree or a parenting plan unless there is a "substantial change" in the circumstances of the child or the nonmoving party (the parent who is not requesting modification) and that the modification is necessary for the best interest of the child.
An "adequate cause" or "threshold hearing" will be required to modify an existing child custody arrangement. During the hearing, the moving party (the parent who is requesting modification) will show adequate cause or give substantial reasons why it is necessary to modify a prior custody decree or a parenting plan.
For a "major modification," the substantial change in circumstances must be one that affects the child or the nonmoving party. The change in circumstances may fall under any of the following categories:
Both parents agree to the modification
The child has been integrated into the moving parent's family with the consent of the nonmoving parent
The current environment of the child may affect the child's mental, physical, or emotional health
The parent has been found guilty of not complying with the residential time provisions in the parenting plan
The parent has been convicted of custodial interference in the first or second degree
A minor modification only involves a change in the residential schedule and may not exceed 24 full days.
Establishing a parenting plan can be difficult and emotional. Consulting with a knowledgeable Washington child custody attorney is important for proper guidance and protecting your family's best interest and future.
Attorney William E. Morgan has devoted his career to representing clients and handling matters of family law and parenting plans. As your legal counsel, he can help you in establishing or modifying child custody arrangements. He will work with all parties involved to establish a fair parenting agreement, including child custody and parenting time or visitation periods.
If you are trying to establish or modify a parenting plant, call William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law to schedule a one-on-one case assessment. Attorney William E. Morgan will help you understand your rights, review your options, and fight compassionately to protect your family's best interest. He proudly serves clients throughout Grays Harbor County, Montesano, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, and Pacific County, Washington.