Child custody is one of the decisions most fraught with angst during a divorce is child custody. Even though both adults may agree that one is more financially or emotionally capable of caring for the child full time, there is always the possibility that the child wants to live with non-custodial parent. You can find how the law addresses this situation below and what you can do when a child wants to change custody.

The Best Interests of the Child

Regardless of child wishes in custody, or what each parent wants, the judge ruling on the parenting plan must follow the best interests of the child under Washington State law 26.09.002. Meaning, the judge will weigh all applicable factors -- school, finances, extended family -- and rule in favor of the parent who can offer the best of each for the child. Bear in mind that a judge only intervenes when the parents cannot agree. If both you and your ex-spouse agree on your kid's residence then there is no need for a judge to make a ruling.

Can children choose with whom they want to live?

The fact that a judge must make a decision based on the child’s best interests does not mean that the opinion of the child won’t be considered if the child is of an appropriate age. Washington laws do not specify this age. In the end, though, it is up to adults to make the decision about where a child will live, according to the Washington State Family Law Handbook.

Changing a Parenting Plan

As children grow, the child and the parents may wish to change an already existing parenting plan. While changing a parenting plan after it has been finalized is difficult, it’s not impossible. Usually, a major change in one of the parents’ lives, such as a custodial parent moving out of state with a child, must have occurred in order for a court to make changes. Minor changes, like the number of days a parent can see the child, are often easier to make.

Speak with an Attorney for More Information about Parenting Plans in Washington State

Divorce can be hard, and if you have children, choosing who the child will live with can be very difficult. If you have questions about how parenting plans work, how a judge makes a decision about custody and child support payments, or what your options are if you want to amend an existing parenting plan, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny can help. You can reach us now for more information at 425-460-0550. 

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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