child custody arrangement will detail exactly when the children will spend time with which parent, as well as which parent has specific rights and obligations. The court must approve a parenting plan that details these issues.

Examples of Child Custody Arrangements

The parenting plan establishes where the child will live. One parent may be the primary residential parent, but the plan typically details when the child will spend time with the other parent, such as on weekends, holidays, and vacations, or even during the week. Below are some examples of custody and visitation scenarios.

Child Spends Weekends, Holidays with Non-Primary Residential Parent

One parent may be the primary residential parent, but the child may head over to the other parent’s home every weekend and for school holidays. The parents may alternate major holidays and the child may spend a significant portion of vacation time with the non-primary residential parent. Both parents typically retain legal decision-making rights for the child.

Child Alternates Time between Both Parents’ Homes

Some may prefer a more equal split, where a child may spend one week with Mom and the next with Dad. The parents may alternate holidays and vacation time, and both parents will usually retain legal decision-making rights.

One Parent Receives Limited Visitation and Rights

In rare cases, one parent may receive only limited or no visitation rights at all. The parent may not even retain legal decision-making rights. This may be true in cases of domestic violence, child abuse, legal incompetency, and other situations where the courts deem it in the child’s best interests to revoke or limit one parent’s custody rights.

Child Custody Arrangements for Special Circumstances

Parent Relocates

If a parent decides to relocate with the child to a different state, or even to a different school district, he or she must file a notice of relocation. The other parent will have the right to object. The court will consider the objection and make a decision that is in the child’s best interests based on each side’s argument. Non-objection to the relocation notice will permit the relocation, and the parent who failed to object will receive residential and visitation time in accordance with the schedule proposed in the relocation notice.

In cases when a parent moves with a child far away from the other parent, the non-primary custody parent may receive residential time in intervals that are farther apart, but which may be longer in duration. This may include longer periods during holidays and vacations, for example.

Grandparents Request Visitation

In Washington State, grandparents have a right to visitation if a strong relationship exists. Grandparents may see the need to go through legal channels for visitation rights if they do not trust one of the parents (such as a former son- or daughter-in-law) to allow them to see their grandchild otherwise. Again, the court’s decision regarding whether to grant visitation rights will hinge on what it determines is in the child’s best interests.

In some custody cases, both parents may be unfit to maintain custody of the child; if that’s true, the grandparents are often a primary option for custody.

Unmarried Parents

If a couple is married and has a child, the husband is presumed the father. But if the couple isn’t married, the father may acknowledge paternity by signing the appropriate forms or may undergo a paternity test. Parents may wish to establish paternity in order to exercise their rights in a parenting plan and residential schedule, or to request child support.

Child custody arrangements for unmarried parents may be similar to those of divorced parents.

Let Molly B. Kenny Help Draft Your Child Custody Agreement

The custody agreement is one of the most critical parts of your divorce and you should not approach it without careful consideration. The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is here to help parents develop the best course of action to protect their rights and the best interests of their child. Contact us online or call us at 425-460-0550.

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