Washington law does not set out what a “normal” parenting plan should be. Instead, it encourages parties to reach their own agreement about parenting their child. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, however, the court must issue a parenting plan after taking various factors into consideration, including the child’s age.
A parenting plan contains a residential schedule that defines which parent has the residential care of the child each day. In most cases, a child will primarily live in the residential care of one parent, and spend certain days in the residential care of the other parent. In many cases, the non-residential parent will exercise “visitation” with the child on alternate weekends, for a few hours midweek, and for half of the specified holidays and school breaks.
Here, again, the age of the child comes into play. When a child is not yet in school, each parent may necessarily have the opportunity to spend more time with the child than they would be able to with a school-aged child. On the other hand, it may be difficult to send a small infant to the other parent for an entire weekend if the child is still breastfeeding. These are just a few examples about how the age of your children might impact your parenting plan.
For these reasons, parenting plans involving infants and small children tend to be quite different than those involving school-aged children. A plan for an infant might provide for frequent – even daily – visits by the non-residential parent for short periods of time, and no overnight visitation. Conversely, a plan for a fourth-grader might provide for alternate weekends with each parent and a shorter visit with the non-residential parent after school.
Divorce and paternity cases involving minor child can be very complex, so you will need to consult a child custody and visitation attorney about your rights and obligations under Washington law. With our legal knowledge of Washington family law, we can help you make the decisions in your case that will best benefit you and your family in any type of family law matter. We are here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and help guide you through what is likely to be a difficult proceeding. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we handle family law cases that involve all types of issues, including child custody, visitation, divorce, paternity, child support, property division, and spousal support. Contact our office today and see how we can assist you with your Washington family law case.