For many years, the family law courts and judges believed that children should be raised by their mothers in the event that their parents divorced. Today, this attitude is less prevalent, but many fathers still wonder if they are at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving parenting time or visitation.
Many fathers still assume that they will be limited to a parenting schedule which consists of alternating weekends and a weeknight dinner. Attitudes have changed, however, both in the judiciary and in the general public. While the playing field may not be exactly equal yet, evenly split parenting time is quickly becoming the norm.
Some states have tried to equalize parenting time through legislation. Washington State’s legislature has proposed a bill which would require judges to start out at the assumption that parenting time should be split 50/50, but this bill has not yet passed.
Regardless of whether this bill ever becomes law, many judges find the idea that women should handle the majority of the parenting to be outdated and sexist. Most will expect parents to have a good reason for not equally splitting parenting time, and hardly any will automatically give custody to the mother without consideration for the father.
In many cases, the decision to split parenting time is made by both the mother and the father during a mediation or other conference. Most parents will be able to come to a decision based on each person’s work or travel schedules, and usually choose a plan which gives each parent relatively equal time with the children. If parents are reluctant to split time equally, attorneys for both sides can usually find a way, through negotiation and other tactics, to convince parents to share custody of their children.
In cases where parents cannot come to an agreement themselves, the family court judge may need to get involved. Sharing parenting time is often a contentious issue; some mothers may not trust their children’s father to care for their wellbeing, and others may be reluctant to give up child support funds by splitting time evenly. Regardless of the reason for the hesitation, a mother will need to prove to the court that it is in the children’s best interest to limit time with their father.
Family court judges have one consideration in mind at all times: what is best for the children. When a parent has not committed a crime, harmed the children, or been neglectful in any way, there is usually no reason not to split time evenly.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys fight for the rights of all of our clients, no matter their gender. We believe that all parents have a right to care for their children, and will work with you and your former spouse to negotiate a parenting plan which fits your family’s needs.
To learn more about parenting time, or to schedule your consultation with our Washington state family law attorneys, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.