Child Custody

Our attorneys represent clients in child custody cases in dissolutions, legal separations, major modifications, and paternity actions (both before and after paternity has been established). Our attorneys can help you develop a proposed parenting plan or residential plan, as well as resolve any child support issues.

Although the proposed parenting plan in King County, WA, is not actually required for 60 days post-filing, it is often filed at the time of filing the Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation. We help our client resolve their case by presenting any final order affecting the parenting/residential plan or confirming the case for trial if the parties cannot agree on a plan.

Washington Child Custody Attorney in Seattle

The Washington attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson help our clients resolve child custody issues in a parenting plan. In these cases, it is important to talk with your attorney about the impact parental conflict has on the children and the best ways to minimize that conflict.

We represent clients throughout King County including the cities of Seattle and Kent. We also represent clients throughout the bordering counties of Snohomish County to the north and Tacoma in Pierce County to the south.

We can help you come up with a proposed parenting plan that focuses on the needs of the children. Contact us to learn more about the court procedures and processes that will impact your case. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call (206) 712-2756 today to schedule a confidential consultation.

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Parenting Plans in King County, WA

In Washington, the law requires a parenting plan in many types of cases including a marital dissolution, legal separation, or annulment where minor children are involved. The courts no longer use the terms “child custody” or “visitation.” Instead, the parents are encouraged to resolve these issues by developing a “parenting plan,” which will indicate that one parent is the primary caregiver, and the other parent has residential time with the child or children. If the parents are not in agreement, then the court will develop the parenting plan.

If the parties agree on the plan, then the parties will submit an agreed parenting plan to the court. Alternatively, the parents can propose opposing plans. The court will decide what is in the best interests of the children. Parenting plans contain the following elements:

  • a schedule for the residential care of the child or children;
  • the allocation of responsibility for parental decision-making; and
  • provisions to help the parties resolve disputes that might occur in the future regarding parenting decisions.

The law in Washington includes provisions designed to protect children from conduct that is adverse to the child’s best interest including:

  • parental abuse or neglect;
  • continued exposure to domestic violence; and
  • abusive use of parental conflict.
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Attending the Parent Seminar in King County

For mothers and fathers going through a divorce or other types of family law cases, the parents are required by the court to attend a parent seminar called “What About the Children?” The parenting seminar helps parents with children who are affected by on-going parental conflicts related to a separation or divorce. The seminar is offered frequently in both Seattle and Kent, WA. To schedule your seminar, click here.

In King County, attending the seminar is required by Local Family Law Rule 13(c). Even when the class is not required, some parents decide to take the class on a voluntary basis to learn more about how to minimize the impacts of parental conflict, separation, or divorce on their minor children.

Under LFLR 13(c)(2), attendance of the mandatory seminar is required within sixty (60) days of service of a petition. If you do not attend before your case schedule deadline, you will be charged a $35 noncompliance fee, pursuant to King County Ordinance 16984. After you complete the class you should provide a copy of your certificate of completion to your family law attorney, as parenting seminar certificates must be attached to a final parenting plan or the court will not enter it.

The parenting seminar covers many topics including:

  • family court processes and procedures;
  • how to develop a parenting plan that best meets the needs of your children;
  • how to communicate better with the other parent;
  • how to help your children during each phase of the transition;
  • the impact of parental conflict on the children and the entire family.

To attend the parenting seminar in King County, you must pre-register at least three (3) weeks in advance. The fee to attend the seminar is currently set at $40 per person.

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Application of the UCCJEA in Washington

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) can be found in chapter 26.27 RCW. The UCCJEA requires the courts in Washington to only exercise jurisdiction to enter a child custody determination when Washington is the child’s “home state.

A child’s “home state” is “the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding.” RCW 26.27.021(7).

When Washington is not the child’s “home state,” the courts can still exercise jurisdiction when the courts of the child’s “home state,” if one exists, decline to exercise jurisdiction and several other conditions are met.

Where a child is temporarily absent from his or her home state, the time of absence is part of the period measured in order to determine the child’s home state. For this reason, the parents’ intent is relevant in determining whether a period of absence was intended to be temporary or permanent.

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Modifications of Parenting Plans under Washington Law

RCW 26.09.260 provides for the modification of parenting plans in Washington. Under RCW 26.09.260(1), the trial court may not modify a final parenting plan unless:

  • there has been a substantial change of circumstances of the child or nonmoving party; and
  • the modification is in the best interests of the child and is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.

RCW 26.09.260(2) provides:

In applying these standards, the court shall retain the residential schedule established by the decree or parenting plan unless:

(a) The parents agree to the modification;

(b) The child has been integrated into the family of the petitioner with the consent of the other parent in substantial deviation from the parenting plan;

(c) The child’s present environment is detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health and the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantage of a change to the child;

(d) The court has found the nonmoving parent in contempt of court at least twice within three years because the parent failed to comply with the residential time provisions in the court-ordered parenting plan, or the parent has been convicted of custodial interference in the first or second degree under RCW 9A.40.060 or 9A.40.070.

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Additional Resources

Non-Parent Custody Order – Visit the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts webpage to view temporary non-parent custody order forms. Visit the page to download certain forms including Motion for Temporary Non-Parent Custody Order and Restraining Order, Temporary Non-Parent Custody Order, and more.

King County Local Family Law Rules – Visit the King County website to view local family law rules. You’ll find Days and Times for Scheduling Hearings; Court HolidaysUnified Family Court, and more.


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Washington Child Custody Lawyers in Kent County

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are experienced in filing actions under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 26.09, including dissolutions of marriage, legal separations, and major parenting plan modifications.

We represent clients in family law cases throughout all of King County including Seattle, North Bend, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Issaquah, Vashon Island and Maury Island. We also represent clients in family law cases in the city of Kent, WA, in the heart of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area. Call (206) 712-2756 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss divorce case or paternity case.

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