As you prepare to end your relationship with your spouse, you’ll have to consider the nature of your ongoing relationship with your children. The court may consider a number of factors about each parent before approving a parenting plan, many of which occur before the divorce is final.

A Parent’s Actions Before Divorce Can Affect Child Custody

Gavel and Family Figurines on a DeskAs with all other aspects of child custody cases, judges make decisions regarding custody based solely on the best interests of the child. What may seem irrelevant or insignificant to you could be a significant factor in granting custody or even visitation rights.

Secondhand Smoke

The presence of secondhand smoke in the home could be a factor in custody decisions. In the past, a smoking parent has faced the loss of child custody, restricted visitation rights, or smoking restrictions related to child custody or child visitation. If you smoke, be sure to set rules for yourself to minimize secondhand smoke exposure, such as only smoking outside, only smoking in one room of your home, and never smoking in the car with your children. Even better, try to give up the habit of smoking altogether for your family's health.

Are Dating Someone New

In Washington, you don't have to prove fault to be granted a divorce. If you begin dating while you’re separated, the courts don’t consider any “adultery" accusations as grounds for withholding custody. However, the court may require information about your new partner, potential new step-children, or anyone living with you to ensure your children’s safety and emotional stability.

Quit Your Job

Each parent is expected to meet the financial needs of their children.  

Work Long Hours

Even if you are able to provide financially for your child, you must still be able to spend time with them to meet their psychological and developmental needs. If your job involves travel or being on-call at all hours, the judge may find your work schedule incompatible with primary custody.

Are Struggling to Get Back on Your Feet

The biggest concern in custody proceedings is whether a parent can provide a safe and nurturing home for the child. A judge will consider not only your living situation but the proximity of your dwelling to your spouse's home, your child’s school, and your child’s social and scholastic activities.

Fight With Your Spouse

Childless couples may end their relationship permanently through a divorce, but divorcing parents have to stay in regular contact for the benefit of their children. The judge will consider how well (or how poorly) you and your spouse have gotten along for your children’s well-being. Minor remarks made in anger or frustration about the other parent in front of children or interfering with visitation could be seen as an attempt to influence or alienate the child, negatively impacting custody requests.

Committed a Crime

Criminal records will usually be considered as part of custody proceedings. A parent with a history of violent behavior, domestic violence, substance abuse, or other offenses can be grounds for denial of custody or visitation rights.

We Can Help Protect Your Relationship With Your Children

While your divorce won't affect your love for your kids, it can seriously impact the amount of time you spend with them. The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny can help ensure that you are treated fairly when it comes to child custody. Call us today at (425) 460-0550 to talk about your situation before making any big moves, or use our online contact form to have us reach out to you.


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