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Seattle Child Custody Lawyer

Seattle Child Custody Attorney

Child custody can be an emotionally charged issue in a divorce proceeding in Washington. Any time custody issues arise, the parties may find themselves fighting to protect their children and their rights. If you are in a custody battle in Seattle, WA, you need an experienced lawyer on your side.

At Twyford Law Office, we have decades of combined experience representing people in child custody matters. We strive to provide exceptional legal services and personalized solutions for our clients. 

Learn how we can help you and your child by scheduling a free case review with our experienced Seattle child custody lawyers. Contact our experienced attorneys at (206) 590-7085.

How Twyford Law Office Can Help You With Your Child Custody Matter in Seattle

How Our Seattle Family Lawyers Can Help You With a Child Custody CaseOne of the most challenging issues in a divorce is determining who receives custody of the couple’s children. Generally, both parents want what is best for their children, but they may vehemently disagree on who should have custody. Sometimes, those disagreements can lead to heated disputes.

Our Seattle divorce lawyers are recognized locally and nationally for their knowledge and services. The National Association of Distinguished Counsel recognizes Attorney Julie A. Twyford as one of the Nation’s Top One Percent of Lawyers. She has built a team of legal professionals who are dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals. 

In addition to aggressively representing our clients in court, we are resourceful negotiators who use mediation to resolve cases whenever possible. We’re available to our clients 24/7 to provide the support and guidance they need as they fight to protect their rights. 

When you hire our top-rated child support and custody attorneys in Seattle, you can trust that we will:

  • Intently listen as you explain your current circumstances 
  • Help you identify your priorities and develop a plan that achieves those goals
  • Thoroughly investigate allegations of parental unfitness, parental alienation, and other wrongdoing by the other parent
  • Work with leading expert witnesses as necessary 
  • Use mediation and negotiation to obtain a parenting plan that meets your goals
  • Prepare for trial and aggressively argue your position in court if necessary

Our attorneys believe your children’s welfare should be the priority. We will help you find a way to protect your children while retaining your ability to continue a close relationship with them. 

Contact us in Seattle, Washington, to get started.

The Types of Child Custody Granted in Washington

When the courts decide on these matters, they must determine if one or both parents will have legal and physical custody of their children. It is essential to understand the difference between these two types of custody.

Legal Custody in Seattle, WA

The court may grant either parent legal custody, which is the right to make life decisions that impact the child. 

This form of custody gives a parent the right to decide:

  • The best way to meet the child’s educational needs (e.g., private school vs. public school)
  • Choices regarding the child’s healthcare and medical treatment 
  • The religious upbringing of the child, if any
  • The extracurricular activities and social events the child attends

Importantly, the parent with legal custody is not required to ask the other parent for input or consider their input. 

The law encourages parties to share legal custody whenever possible so that each parent participates in the child’s upbringing. However, if a parent is unfit, the judge may grant sole legal custody to the other parent.

Physical Custody in Seattle, WA

This concept refers to which parent the child lives with, either part-time or full-time. The specific details regarding how many overnights the child spends in a parent’s home can be addressed in the parenting plan. 

However, even with joint custody, the child typically lives primarily with one parent for stability and continuity. That parent is referred to as the custodial parent. A judge may grant sole custody of this type to one parent and limit visitation if the other parent is unfit.

Determining the Best Interests of a Child in a Custody Dispute in Seattle, WA

Determining the Best Interests of a Child in a Custody Dispute The courts encourage parents to co-parent effectively and develop a parenting plan. A parenting plan provides the details of the arrangement. It is a legally enforceable agreement incorporated in the court’s final order.

However, if parents cannot agree on terms, the court must decide. Judges base their decisions on the best interests of the child.

This standard requires judges to consider factors hat maintain the child’s health, growth, care, and stability. Washington law directs that the relationship between a parent and child should be “fostered” unless it could be harmful to the child. The law promotes continuing a close parent-child bond for the child’s welfare.

Factors that may be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature, strength, and stability of a child’s relationship with each parent
  • Past performance of parenting functions and the potential for future performance 
  • The child’s emotional and developmental needs
  • Each parent’s employment schedule
  • The child’s relationships with other family members and siblings
  • How well the child has integrated into their community and school
  • The reasonable wishes of a child and parent for custody arrangements

In addition to the above, the court will consider evidence that a parent is unfit. Each circumstance is unique and decided individually. 

However, some of the things to be considered are:

  • Limitations a parent might have that could negatively impact the child
  • A history of domestic violence
  • A lack of emotional tie between the child and parent
  • Whether a parent has been convicted of a sex offense as an adult
  • Proof of child abuse
  • Substantial use of alcohol and drugs, which impairs the ability to care for a child
  • Evidence of a substantial failure of duties (e.g., neglect)
  • Instances of willful abandonment of a child
  • A parent attempting to alienate the child from the other parent or using conflict to damage a child’s psychological development

The overall priority is to select a legal and physical custody arrangement that allows the parents and child to maintain a loving, nurturing, and stable lifestyle while protecting the child from harm.

A judge may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) as well. The person is an independent, impartial third party. The GAL files a report with recommendations for the parenting plan. The judge is not required to follow the recommendations as they are only one element to consider.

What Is a Visitation Schedule in Seattle, WA?

What Is a Visitation Schedule in WashingtonTypically, a child primarily stays with one parent over the other. However, parenting plans are flexible and can be customized in numerous ways depending on a family’s situation and a child’s needs. 

A non-custodial parent must have at least one weeknight visit with their child and visitation every other weekend. However, the parents may agree to a different visitation schedule in the parenting plan. Additional visitation may be granted in some circumstances.

Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement in Washington?

Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement in Washington?Children grow up, and life events change a parent’s circumstances. The law recognizes that parents may need to modify existing orders. However, there must be a substantial change in circumstances.

The parent requesting the change must file a Petition for Modification with the court requesting an adjustment to the current child custody decree and parenting plan. The petition must explain how the proposed changes are best for the child and how the changes constitute a “substantial change” in circumstances.

At the hearing, evidence is heard supporting the petition. The other parent may offer evidence disputing the change. From there, a decision will be made regarding whether there is adequate cause to change the arrangement.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With Our Seattle Child Custody Attorneys Today

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your children in a custody battle, Contact us today at (206) 590-7085 for a free meeting with an attorney. Our Seattle child custody attorneys will strive to reach an arrangement that works for you and your family, but we are ready to fight fiercely in court if necessary. 

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