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Puyallup Child Custody

Expert Puyallup Child Custody Attorneys

For parents, protecting their children's future is the number one priority. They want to ensure they have the financial resources and emotional support to grow up happy and healthy. Unfortunately, in cases of separation, disagreements about what’s best for their child are common. Recognizing these challenges, Washington State has created laws to help parents better navigate these waters.

In Washington, child custody is more than determining where the child lives. It also covers major decisions about the child's life. However, navigating these laws is difficult for parents, especially when things are contentious. That's where our expertise comes in. Our Puyallup child custody attorneys understand these laws and will fight for your parental rights.

How Does Washington Determine Child Custody?

In Washington, child custody courts focus on determining arrangements that serve the child's best interests. To determine custody arrangements, various factors that support the child's overall well-being and stability are considered. These include:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • The parent's ability to provide for the child
  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The parents' history of involvement in the child's life and ability to cooperate
  • The parent's history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or neglect

If the child is deemed old enough and mature enough to express a preference, the court may consider the child's wishes regarding custody arrangements. Ultimately, the Pierce County Family Courts make the final decision.

What Are The Types Of Child Custody In Washington?

Considering the complexities of raising children in separate households, Washington recognizes two types of custody:

  • Legal Custody: Legal child custody is the authority parents have to make major decisions regarding their child's upbringing.
  • Physical Custody: Physical child custody determines where the child lives.

Washington law does not have a presumption of joint custody. Each case is individually assessed to determine the best outcome for the child.

What Is A Parenting Plan In Child Custody Disputes?

Parents in Washington must create a parenting plan that outlines custody and visitation arrangements and other essential aspects of co-parenting, like decision-making responsibilities, communication methods, and dispute resolution processes. Once approved by the Pierce County Courts, parenting plans become legally binding court orders.

Court orders in Washington are enforceable by law. If one parent violates the terms of the parenting plan, the other parent can seek enforcement through the court, which may lead to penalties.

Can The Parenting Plan Be Modified?

In Washington, custody agreements can be revised if circumstances shift or the existing setup no longer serves the child's best interests. Parents must petition the court for a modification and demonstrate the need for a change. Here’s where a Puyallup child support lawyer can help.

How Can I Get Custody Of My Children In Puyallup?

To pursue custody of your children in Puyallup, Washington, you will need to navigate the legal process through the Pierce County family court system. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Hire a Child Custody Attorney: Before taking any legal action, consult a family law attorney with experience handling child custody cases in Pierce County. Child custody attorneys provide personalized guidance based on your unique situation.
  2. File A Petition with the Pierce County Courts: To initiate a custody case, you must petition the family court in the county where the children currently reside or where they have significant connections. If you live in Puyallup, this is most likely the Pierce County Courts. The petition will outline your request for custody and may include information about your relationship with the children, their living situation, and any concerns regarding their well-being.
  3. Serve the Other Parent The Divorce Papers: Once you've filed the petition, you must ensure that the other parent is appropriately served with a copy of the petition and any related court documents. Usually, you do this by a process server or asking the Pierce County Sheriff's Office to serve the documents personally to the other parent.
  4. Attend Mediation: The Pierce County courts sometimes require parents to participate in mediation or alternative dispute resolution to attempt to reach a custody agreement outside of court. Mediation can be a valuable opportunity for parents to work together and develop a parenting plan that meets their children’s needs with the help of a neutral third party.
  5. Attend Court Hearings: The Pierce County family court will schedule hearings to address custody issues after the petition is filed and served. These hearings may include temporary order hearings, where temporary custody arrangements are established while the case is ongoing, and final hearings to determine permanent custody arrangements.
  6. Present Evidence and Testimony: If you cannot reach an agreement through mediation, you will go to trial and have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to support their custody requests, including witness testimony, documentation of parental involvement, evidence of the child's best interests, and any other relevant information.
  7. Receive a Court Order: After considering all evidence and testimony presented, the court will issue a custody order outlining the children's legal and physical custody arrangements. The custody order will specify which parent has primary custody, visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent, decision-making authority for major issues, and any other relevant provisions.
  8. Follow Court Orders: Once the Pierce County Court issues a custody order, both parents must comply with its terms. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences, including enforcement actions by the court.

Throughout the custody process, it's essential to prioritize the children's best interests and maintain a cooperative attitude toward co-parenting whenever possible.

Winning Custody Battles: Expert Legal Advice For Washington Parents

You'll need more than determination when facing a custody battle in Washington. A strategic approach that maximizes your chances of success in court is crucial. You can obtain custody agreements that put children's needs first by learning Pierce County laws and using smart plans. Here are our attorney's top tips:

1. Document Everything

Keep detailed records of all communication, exchanges, and any instances of conflict or concerning behavior with the other parent. Document your involvement in your child's life, including attendance at school events, medical appointments, extracurricular activities, and daily caregiving tasks.

2. Focus On Your Child's Best Interests

Frame your arguments and evidence around what is best for the child, emphasizing their safety, well-being, and developmental needs. Demonstrate your willingness and ability to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent unless doing so would harm the child's welfare.

3. Present Strong Evidence You Deserve Custody

To support your case, gather compelling evidence, including witness testimony, expert opinions (such as from therapists or child psychologists), school records, medical reports, and any documentation of abuse or neglect. Anticipate potential counterarguments from the other parent and be prepared to refute them with persuasive evidence.

4. Be Cooperative and Flexible With The Parenting Plan

Show that you're ready to work with the other parent and follow court orders, even if you disagree. Demonstrate your willingness to be flexible and accommodate changes in schedules or circumstances when it is in the child's best interests.

5. Stay Composed And Professional

Maintain your composure and professionalism, both in and out of court. Avoid engaging in conflict or aggressive behavior with the other parent. Present yourself as a responsible and stable parent who can effectively co-parent with the other party, regardless of personal differences.

6. Work With An Experienced Child Custody Attorney

Get advice from a seasoned Puyallup family law lawyer who knows Washington's custody rules well and has a history of winning custody battles. They can assist you in creating a detailed legal plan, guide you through court processes, and speak on your behalf effectively.

7. Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution Strategies

Consider other options besides going to court, like mediation or collaborative law, to settle custody issues in a friendlier or less aggressive way. These alternatives could help you and the other parent agree on terms without a court case, saving you time, money, and stress. Talk to your child custody lawyer in Puyallup for more information.

What To Bring To Your First Meeting With A Child Custody Attorney

Make the most out of your first meeting with your attorney by bringing the proper documents, including:

  • Photo ID
  • Relevant legal documents (divorce papers, previous custody agreements)
  • Financial records (income, assets, expenses)
  • Child's birth certificate
  • Calendar (to discuss visitation schedules)
  • List of concerns/questions
  • Any evidence supporting your custody case (communications, reports)
  • Contact information for references or witnesses
  • The child's medical and school records
  • Any court notices or documents received regarding the custody case

With this information, your attorney can start building your case.

If you're facing a child custody battle, it's important to understand your rights and responsibilities under Washington law. A knowledgeable Puyallup attorney specializing in child support provides legal and valuable assistance. We'll advocate for your interests and find the best solution for your child. Contact us now and schedule your first consultation with our qualified child custody attorneys.

Client Reviews
Laurie has worked on my very challenging and contentious divorce and I could not have asked for a better family law attorney. She was able to handle all of the twists and turns of my case with ease. I highly recommend Laurie to anyone looking for an excellent, ethical and hard working counselor. Chandler
Laurie is an incredible divorce lawyer! She did an amazing job with my divorce, and it was a real dog fight the whole way. She is a true fighter. And you can tell that she really cares about her family law clients and the results that she achieves for them. John
My lawyer guided me through a very challenging time in my life when I was going through my divorce. She worked hard and explained every step of the way what was going on so I could understand the process. I was very happy with her work. Barbel