Child Custody Attorneys
in Tacoma, Washington

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 30% of households with children below 18 years in Washington State are headed by single parents. In every divorce scenario, establishing child custody agreements is an important step to determine the rights, responsibilities, and duties of each parent. If you are contemplating filing for divorce and trying to understand how to establish or modify child custody arrangements, you need to speak with an experienced Washington State family law attorney for proper guidance.

At Curiale Hostnik PLLC, we have the resources and experience to guide and represent clients in family law and child custody-related matters. As your legal counsel, we can evaluate the details of your case and explore all of your legal options. Whether you are trying to establish a child custody arrangement, create a parenting plan, or change an existing custody agreement, our team can offer you the detailed legal counsel and strong advocacy you need to navigate crucial decisions in your custody proceedings.

Curiale Hostnik PLLC proudly serves clients in Tacoma, Washington, and cities throughout Pierce County, including Puyallup, Lakewood, and Gig Harbor.

Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement

In a divorce or legal separation, child custody can be a contentious subject. The Washington family court is expected to prioritize the welfare and best interest of the child when making custody decisions. With that said, the divorcing parents can resolve the child custody matters through any of these options:

Uncontested Custody Arrangement

This requires both parents to work together to determine mutually acceptable custody terms and conditions. The final parenting plan will be drafted and presented to the court for official approval. In an uncontested custody arrangement, both parents will have more control over the final agreement. Moreover, it remains a quicker, cost-efficient, and painless option to establish custody. A knowledgeable lawyer can help in keeping the conversation as productive as possible.

Contested Custody Arrangement

However, in a situation where both parents are not able to agree on the terms and conditions of custody or parenting plan, a family court may need to step in. The presiding judge will help determine appropriate child custody arrangements that protect the child's best interest and welfare. If your battle ends up in court, an experienced attorney can help present your case diligently and enhance your chances of arriving at a favorable custody arrangement.

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Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

In a Washington divorce case, custody of children can be categorized into two elements – physical and legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody has to do with the parent the child lives with. The residential schedule will be clearly outlined in the parenting plan. The parent with physical custody will be the one to take care of the child, discipline him or her, and make decisions about daily activities,

Legal Custody

Legal custody has to do with a parents’ rights and responsibilities. The parent with legal custody will be responsible for making major life decisions that affect the child, including the child's education, medical care, upbringing, religious training, and extracurricular activities. 

Factors Considered in Determining Custody

When determining child custody, creating a parenting plan, or allocating decision-making authority, the judge may consider the following relevant factors (Washington Revised Code Section 26.09.187):

  • The ability and willingness of both parents to work together
  • Each parent's history of participation in decision-making over the child
  • The geographical proximity of each parent

Also, the judge may evaluate the family's overall circumstances, including:

  • The role of each parent in caring for and attending to the child's daily needs
  • The strength, nature, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent
  • The emotional and developmental needs of the child
  • The mental health of each parent
  • The ability of the child to adjust to a new home, school, and community
  • The existing relationship between the child, other siblings, and extended family members
  • The reasonable preference of the child
  • Any history of domestic violence by the parents
  • Each parent's wishes for custody
  • The employment schedule of each parent
  • Any other factor deemed relevant by the court

Minimum Parenting Time

In Washington, the minimum parenting time under the state's child custody guidelines requires that the noncustodial parent must receive one weeknight visit and visits every other weekend. At the judge's discretion, the noncustodial parent can get more than the minimum amount of visitation, but not less. 

Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement

Child custody arrangements are not set in stone. In the state of Washington, either parent can petition a request to modify custody. For your case to be heard, the requesting parent must show that:

  • There has been a material change in circumstances, and
  • The child's best interests warrant a custody modification.

Some major life events that may warrant child custody or parenting plan modification include:

  • A loss of employment
  • A sudden change in either party's finances
  • Change in the mental or physical condition of the parent
  • Failure to adhere to the existing order
  • Relocation
  • The child is seriously struggling in school or the new environment
  • A change in the child's preference, for a child who is at least 12 years old
  • The death of one of the parents

Work With an Experienced Family Law Attorney

In every divorce scenario, determining child custody rights and parenting time is often a contentious battle. Resolving custody issues with your estranged spouse, establishing child custody agreements, determining parental responsibility, and allocating parenting time can involve different complexities. Therefore, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is important for proper guidance and to protect your future and your family's best interest.

Our dedicated team of experienced child custody attorneys at Curiale Hostnik PLLC have devoted their careers to providing outstanding legal services and handling family law-related matters, including child custody arrangements and modifications. As your legal counsel, we will evaluate your unique circumstances and guide you through the legal process involved in establishing or modifying a child custody arrangement.

What's more, our team will work with both parents to establish a fair parenting plan, including child custody, parenting time, parental rights, and responsibility. We will help resolve child custody issues as peacefully and productively as possible.

Child Custody Attorneys Serving Tacoma, Washington

If you need assistance establishing or modifying a child custody agreement, contact Curiale Hostnik PLLC today for a consultation. Our experienced attorneys can fight for your family's best interests and offer you the knowledgeable guidance and advocacy you need to navigate important decisions. We proudly serve clients in Tacoma and throughout Pierce County.