Meet Amanda J. Cook, Family Law Attorney
The lawyers at the Law Office of Amanda J. Cook PLLC can help you understand your rights to child custody and visitation when you and your spouse are seeking separation or divorce. Whether you are a mother or father, we believe that all fit and loving parents have the right to custody or visitation with their child, and want to assist you in understanding the laws and how to navigate the legal process.
Washington Parenting Plans
The State of Washington does not use the term “custody” when addressing with whom a child will live. Instead, the State uses the term “residential time,” which is set forth for each parent in a court order called a parenting plan. Parenting plans address how parents will divide:
- Time spent with the child and the logistics of transferring between parents;
- Authority to make major decisions for the child; and
- The process for resolving disputes about parenting issues.
Parents should work together to compose a parenting plan that works best for both parties and serves the best interests of the child. If you and the other parent cannot negotiate a plan to submit to the court, the court will likely order you to attend mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, you and your spouse (your child’s parent) will both submit your own proposed parenting plan to the court, which will then decide whether to adopt one of those proposals or something entirely different.
How a Court Makes a Decision About Parenting Time and Visitation
If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will make a decision for the family. A court will decide how parenting time should be allocated between the parents based on the best interests of each child, after considering:
- The strength of the child’s relationship with each parent;
- Each parent’s historical and future ability to care for the child;
- The child’s level of development and emotional needs;
- The child’s relationship with siblings, other significant adults and community;
- The wishes of the parents;
- The wishes of a child sufficiently mature to have a reasoned and independent preference; and
- Each parent’s work schedule.
While both parents will typically have liberal access to their children, the court may impose appropriate restrictions when it finds there is a basis to do so, as provided by RCW 26.09.191. These reasons include but are not limited to abandonment or refusal to parent; child abuse; a history of domestic violence or assault; conviction of a sex offense; a mental or emotional impairment; substance abuse; lack of emotional ties with the child; a history of false allegations made to interfere with the other parent’s access to the child; or unreasonably withholding the child from the other parent.
We Help You to Protect Your Child’s Best Interests
We know how challenging going through a divorce can be, especially when the issue of losing time with your child is on the line. Our experienced Washington family law attorneys work with you to navigate the court system and negotiate an appropriate parenting plan with your spouse. If an agreement is not reached, we can also represent you in court in order to protect your right to time with your child.
Contact our law offices today for your initial consultation. Do not wait to take action when doing so could affect the future you have with your child.
We recognize the value of preserving civility in the legal process, particularly when working with families.
Each and every client and their case matter to us.
…Divorce and child custody issues are stressful enough to continually go through ,but Amanda always knew how to ease some of that stress. There’s no better feeling than having the utmost confidence in your attorney. Amanda was always there whenever we had questions or needed clarification. She’s hands down one of the best around!
Steve & Marissa
Amanda went above and beyond to help us in every way when it came to our custody issues. She was there for us every step of the way. Her knowledge and expertise helped us at every turn. She is a wonderful person and even better lawyer to have on your side. Thank you ever so much Amanda for your time and effort.