If you are currently involved in a divorce, you may have a lot of false ideas about how courts handle custody. There is a general public consensus that courts always side with moms and never award joint custody. And while this is, in-part, historically accurate to an extent, legislation in one state is trying to do something about it.
How does the legislature want to split custody?
Studies have consistently found that children need both parents in their life for optimal development. Seeing one parent every other weekend is just not sufficient for the amount of love, connection, and relationship building that every child needs.
"The one thing that's in common is what the children need, and generally speaking, they are hard wired; children are just hard wired to need both biological parents," Andrea Bishop, Executive Director of the Betty and Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center, explained to KY3 News.
Missouri legislators seem to agree. They have introduced new legislation in both the state house and senate that proposes 50/50 shared custody in most custody cases. The bill proposes to have parents alternate weeks for custody, e.g., the child stays with mom one week and dad the next.
This raises a lot of questions. What if one parent is not attentive or has poor parenting skills? What if the parents live far apart? What if one parent is absent the majority of the time? In these cases, the bill provides that parents would be able to submit to the court alternative schedules for approval.
How do Washington courts generally approach custody?
Washington courts have always based custody determinations on what is “in the best interest of the child,” and they do it on a case-by-case basis. They look at a variety of factors, from the child’s relationship with each parent to the parents’ health and ability to provide support.
During a divorce proceeding, the courts will review evidence that each party submits and try to determine what would be the best living situation for the child given the particular circumstances.
Some are under the assumption that the courts are biased against fathers, and award mothers with full custody in most cases. This is most certainly not true in the Seattle area. Courts here are increasingly recognizing that a father is indispensable in a child’s life, and are increasingly moving towards joint custody schedules.
Where can I get legal advice for my custody case?
If you reside in Washington, contact The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny for help with your custody case. My family law team has helped hundreds of parents through difficult child custody issues, and would be happy to help you too. Call my office today at 425-460-0550 to schedule a consultation.