When Children Can Lawfully Decide Which Parents to Live With in WA: A Divorce Lawyer’s Point of View

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When Children Can Lawfully Decide Which Parents to Live With in WA: A child custody attorney Kennewick‘s Point of View

Divorced customers typically ask whether their kids can choose which moms and dad to cope with. The response relies on the timing of the kids’ input. Kids 1) often have a say while their parenting plan (i.e. child custody order) is being developed, 2) typically have no choice while their parenting plan is in location, and 3) have a say once again during custody adjustment actions.

1. Before a Parenting Strategy Is In Place. RCW 26.09.187 provides that courts must strongly consider child-parent bonds when designating residential time in a parenting plan. Most likely this suggests kids can influence their property (custody) positioning by indicating which parent they like best. Courts provide more weight to older kids’s choices, and teens can have a decisive impact on custody by picking one moms and dad over the other.

Getting kids’s choices prior to a court can be difficult nevertheless. States statements from minors are disfavored. Other courts and jurists disfavor testimony from minors too. Normally the best way to convey a child’s preference to the court is to request a guardian advertisement litem. The guardian ad litem is a court-appointed representative who can supply the court with a report mentioning, to name a few things, who kids prefer.

2. While a Parenting Plan Is In Location. After the parenting strategy remains in place, kids normally have little choice where parent they live with. This guideline comes from the influential Washington Supreme Court case In re Marriage of Rideout, 150 Wash. 2d 337 (2003 ). The Rideout case made clear that children as old as thirteen can not choose whether to override the domestic provisions of their custody plan, regardless the children’s protestations.

This author’s practical experience recommends Washington courts tend to follow the Rideout guideline irrespective the children’s ages. Report has it some judges and commissioners want to consider kids’s desires when the children are fourteen or older. But difficult Rideout is a risky proposal that can cause findings of contempt.

3. When Custody is Being Modified. An action for major adjustment of the parenting strategy once again unlocks for children’s input, because the court once again figures out property placement. Filing an action for adjustment is no simple matter though, even when the kids highly want to come deal with the customizing celebration. Significant barriers prevent moms and dads from filing most types of modifications absent a certifying significant modification in situations.

As soon as among these 4 requirements are satisfied, the court will generally consider kids’s viewpoints to the same degree as when a parenting plan is first developed.