Few legal rights are as crucial as your rights as a parent. The outcome of a child custody case can have long-lasting effects on your relationship with your children. Some custody cases result in irreparable damage. That’s why it’s important to consult an experienced child custody lawyer to understand your legal rights as soon as possible. Having an attorney by your side early on will provide better protection for your parental rights.
Types of Child Custody
- Physical Custody: Refers to the amount of time each parent is permitted to spend with the child. It may be sole, primary, or joint custody.
- Legal Custody: Determines which parent can make day-to-day decisions for the child, such as health and education. It may also be sole, primary, or joint custody.
- Joint Legal Custody: Involves both parents having substantial access to their children, and both can make decisions for the child.
Factors Considered for Joint Legal Custody
- Each parent’s participation in decision-making.
- Proximity of parents to one another.
- Whether parents can work together to make decisions for the child.
Regrettably, it’s a common occurrence for homeowners and contractors to forego formal written agreements, instead relying on bids or invoices. This practice has resulted in numerous lawsuits due to misunderstandings that could have been avoided if the parties had clarified their expectations from the outset. To prevent such conflicts, it’s crucial to include specific construction tasks in writing, written change orders for any work beyond the original contract, an attorney’s fees clause, payment dates and schedules, and a total project cost not to exceed. If you’re a homeowner and a contractor took your deposit but failed to complete or poorly executed the work, you can seek legal action against them and their bond if available.
On the other hand, if you’re a contractor and a homeowner refuses to pay you for your agreed-upon work, you can file a lien on the property where the work was carried out to secure payment.
What is Conservatorship?
In Washington (WA), child custody is referred to as “conservatorship.” It involves the authority to make important decisions regarding the upbringing of a child. WA courts can award sole conservatorship, similar to sole custody in other states, or joint conservatorship when parents share decision-making responsibilities.
Child Custody During and After Divorce
When divorcing with minor children, child custody must be addressed in the final divorce decree. It’s not always necessary to engage in a contentious custody battle before a judge. Many couples can negotiate parenting plans that prioritize their children’s well-being. A skilled child custody lawyer can guide parents through these challenging issues, helping them set aside animosity for the sake of their children. Additionally, an experienced attorney can offer creative solutions that parents may not have considered before, making the process smoother.
However, there are instances when parents cannot reach an agreement. In such cases, it may be necessary to present custody issues before a judge for a determination based on the children’s best interests. Although this can be emotionally and financially demanding, defending parental rights becomes necessary. A knowledgeable custody lawyer can provide an honest assessment of the likely outcome in court, assisting parents in deciding whether to negotiate a parenting plan or proceed with litigation.
Custody Implications of Legal Separation
Even during legal separation without an official divorce, a family court can issue custody orders to provide clarity for parents during the uncertain period. Clear court orders or parenting agreements often reduce conflicts between parents, and children adjust better when there is a defined parenting schedule. Establishing clear parenting rules can make the entire separation process easier.
Custody for Unmarried Parents
In cases where parents were never legally married, the court can still issue parenting orders to ensure consistency between two households. The court first establishes paternity, which can be done through presumption or a DNA test. Once paternity is established, the court determines a parenting time schedule and decision-making rights for the child. Whether parents are divorcing or unmarried, they can either reach a parenting agreement or rely on the judge’s decision. The best interests of the child guide custody resolutions.
Custody Considerations for Same-Sex Couples
Child custody law has introduced new legal issues concerning same-sex parenting. Establishing legal paternity can be challenging for LGBT parents, especially when they are not the biological or legally adopted parent. In such cases, they often need to argue for their status as a “de facto” parent. Consulting an experienced LGBT custody lawyer can help determine the best approach to establish parental rights.
Once paternity is established, custody cases for same-sex couples are treated similarly to other custody cases. The family court still applies the “best interest of the child” standard to determine visitation schedules and decision-making authority.