Last updated on December 18th, 2023 at 11:14 pm

When dealing with child custody issues in Washington State, it is important to know how and where to find the best legal help for your situation. A child custody lawyer may be able to provide support to help you maintain or gain legal custody of your child.

Knowing in-depth information on how to deal with intense legal processes like child custody cases can help you see your desired results for both you and your family.

What Type of Lawyer Handles Child Custody?

In most cases, an experienced family law attorney will be the best fit for a child custody case. Family lawyers are ideal when going through a child custody battle because they are well versed in family law and the dynamics of how family relationships affect legal situations and their outcomes.

Family lawyers can also help you collect evidence and present your information in court. These types of attorneys have ample experience handling controversial custody battles and can represent married or unmarried parents in the court of law. There are many family lawyers in the U.S., so finding a good lawyer is often an easier process than finding a lawyer for other types of cases.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Child Custody?

While hiring a child custody attorney is not mandatory, having a lawyer to advocate for you in court and give you professional advice on your situation can oftentimes make all the difference in a court case. Attempting to represent yourself in court could potentially backfire. Not having ample knowledge of the law can lead to negative results and ultimately affect who receives custody of your child.

Hiring a family lawyer for your child custody battle could be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Knowing which situations require you to hire a lawyer may help you get the best results.

Some reasons you may want to hire a child custody lawyer are:

  • You or your children have experienced abuse or domestic violence
  • Your co-parent is planning on moving to another city, state, or country
  • The other parent has already hired a lawyer
  • Your past is messy and could be exploited
  • You’re unhappy and want to change your last child custody evaluation
  • Your relationship with your co-parent has suddenly shifted for the worse

The court system can be extremely confusing, time-consuming, and costly. In all of these situations, hiring a lawyer may help you settle disputes quickly and effectively. Allowing a lawyer to help with your custody battle can also help you keep your children away from messy legal issues so you can continue to provide stability in their lives.

Although attorneys can prove to be costly, it is common that people who enter court without professional legal representation end up spending more money. This is because people who represent themselves in court are more likely to make costly mistakes throughout the process.

When issues in court move quickly, they are often less expensive. Hiring a child custody attorney is usually the most cost-effective and efficient way to get your desired results.

What You Should Know About Child Custody in Washington State

Child custody laws vary from state to state. If you live in Washington State, it is important that you understand the specific rules and regulations that are enforced when attempting to gain custody of a child. Knowing about the process and what a judge may be looking for when taking on a case may help you see the results you desire.

In this article, you will learn how to better understand your child custody case if you ever find yourself in such a scenario:

Does Washington State favor mothers in custody?

Years ago, the answer to this question would be a simple yes under the “tender years” doctrine, which stated that all young children must be in full custody of their mothers to ensure their developmental years were secure and safe. Today, however, the court favors whichever parent is in the best, most stable condition to parent and take care of the children at hand.

Some of the questions the court may ask during the legal process include:

  • How old is the child and what kind of mental/physical health are they in?
  • Does the child at hand have a particularly close bond with either parent?
  • What are each parent’s jobs? Do they have any good or bad personal habits?
  • Which parent’s living situation (i.e. city, housing situation, school system) will provide the best stability?

What makes a parent unfit in Washington state?

There are many factors that may bring a judge to believe that one of the parents in a child custody case is unfit. Most obviously, if either parent has a history of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental illness that may pose a risk to the child, they will likely be considered an unfit parent and unable to take on full custody of a child.

Other factors include ways in which the parent and the child interact. Does the parent practice age-appropriate limits, such as shielding them from content that is too mature or setting boundaries such as curfews? Do the parent and the child communicate effectively and does the parent listen to their child’s needs? Does the child seem comfortable around their parents and not afraid or intimidated by them?

Lastly, the court will often inquire about the parent’s past and history. Does the parent have a healthy track record looking after said child? Has this parent relied heavily on the other to provide consistent care? How responsible and reliable has this parent been during divorce or separation? Is the parent able to properly communicate with the other parent without involving unhealthy behaviors?

These are just some of the factors that may qualify a parent as unfit for child custody. However, there are many complex details specific to each case that may affect your custody outcome.

At what age can a child refuse visitation in Washington state?

Child custody orders stay in place until a child is 18 years old, unless they are emancipated or the court order is altered. In Washington, there isn’t a set age when a child is allowed to refuse visitation. Instead, as long as a child is acting under their own interests and not being forced by a parent to avoid visitation, there isn’t much a judge or court can do to make them abide by their visitation guidelines.

The younger a child is, the more acceptable it is for a parent to enforce visitation even while a child may be visibly upset or anxious. However, as a child becomes older and more independent, a judge is less likely to penalize a parent who simply can’t get their child to attend visitation with the other parent. We recommend talking with a lawyer if you are concerned about visitation-related legal issues.

If a parent is caught keeping their child away from the other parent and refusing to comply with court custody orders, the parent at hand may revoke the visitation order from the court and in some cases even hold that specific parent in contempt. Only the court can decide which parent is best fit to take care of a child. Parents who try to take matters into their own hands can see serious repercussions.

How do you prove best interest of the child?

Providing children with custody outcomes that are beneficial to them and their entire family is paramount. The best interest of each child is different, which is why a judge must fully understand all of the details to make the correct decision.

Best interest of the child generally refers to the deliberation that courts undertake when deciding what type of services, actions, and orders will best serve a child. This also includes deciphering who is best suited to take care of them. The best interests of a child are determined by a number of different factors based on the child’s and parent’s circumstances and what specific situations and scenarios at hand will have the most positive outcome.

The best interest of a child is based on a few common factors, all of which aim to decipher which living situation would be the path of least resistance in the child’s life. Some of these factors include understanding their relationship with each parent, their siblings and/or other household members they would be living with, the mental and physical needs of both the child and the parent, each parent’s ability to care for the child at hand, as well as which parent can provide ample food, clothing, medicine, and housing.

How to Find a Great Child Custody Lawyer

A great child custody lawyer in Washington State can provide support to help you maintain or gain custody of your child. If you’re struggling with a divorce or separation and need legal help or advice, contacting a child custody attorney can help you reach a settlement with more ease and at a faster rate.

The Anderson Hunter Law Firm can help you with your child custody case in Washington State. Our law firm has served individuals in Snohomish County and the surrounding area for over a century. As a team, we have all the skills and experience needed to help you through child custody and find the best solution for you and your family. You can speak with any of our family attorneys to decide how to approach your child custody case.

Set up a consultation with us today to learn more about how our family child custody lawyers can help you through the legal process.

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