When Children Can Lawfully Decide Which Parents to Live With in WA

Divorced customers frequently ask whether their children can decide which moms and dad to cope with. The response depends upon the timing of the kids’s input. Children 1) often have a say while their parenting plan (i.e. kid custody order) is being formulated, 2) generally have no choice while their parenting strategy remains in place, and 3) have a say once again throughout custody modification actions.

1. Before a Parenting Strategy Is In Place. RCW 26.09.187 supplies that courts ought to strongly consider child-parent bonds when assigning residential time in a parenting strategy. Most likely this indicates children can affect their residential (custody) positioning by suggesting which moms and dad they like best. Courts offer more weight to older kids’s choices, and teenagers can have a definitive influence on custody by picking one parent over the other.

Getting children’s choices before a court can be difficult nevertheless. States declarations from minors are disfavored. Other courts and jurists disfavor testament from minors as well. Normally the best way to communicate a child’s preference to the court is to ask for a guardian advertisement litem. The guardian advertisement litem is a court-appointed agent who can provide the court with a report stating, to name a few things, who children choose.

2. While a Parenting Plan Is In Location. After the parenting strategy remains in place, children typically have little choice where parent they live with. This guideline comes from the seminal Washington Supreme Court case In re Marriage of Rideout, 150 Wash. 2d 337 (2003 ). The Rideout case explained that kids as old as thirteen can not decide whether to bypass the residential arrangements of their custody strategy, regardless the children’s protestations.

This author’s practical experience suggests Washington courts tend to follow the Rideout guideline irrespective the children’s ages. Rumor has it some judges and commissioners are willing to think about kids’s desires when the children are fourteen or older. But challenging Rideout is a risky proposition that can result in findings of contempt.

3. When Custody is Being Modified. An action for major modification of the parenting strategy once again unlocks for kids’s input, due to the fact that the court once again identifies residential positioning. Submitting an action for modification is no simple matter though, even when the children highly want to come live with the customizing party. Considerable barriers prevent moms and dads from submitting most types of modifications missing a qualifying considerable change in situations.

As soon as one of these 4 criteria are fulfilled, the court will normally consider kids’s viewpoints to the exact same level as when a parenting plan is first formulated.For more information, contact a divorce attorney Kennewick, WA.

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