Like most states’ laws, Washington’s laws about child custody cases focus on the best interest of the child. There are a variety of factors that contribute to a child’s best interest, and a judge must consider those factors that are relevant in determining what custody and visitation arrangements are best for a child. The goal is to decide upon the living situation that is most likely to give the child the most physically and emotionally healthy life possible.

Some of the factors that a court may consider in determining what custody and visitation schedule is best for the child are as follows:

• The mental and physical health of each parent
• Whether a parent has a history of alcohol or drug addiction
• Whether a parent has physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing the child
• Which parent primarily cared for the child in the past
• The wishes of each parent and the child, if he or she is mature enough to give an opinion
• The closeness and strength of the relationship between the child and each parent, as well as with any other members of either parent’s household, such as new spouses, new partners, and siblings
• The religious and cultural needs of the child
• The educational and social needs of the child
• The level of participation of the child in his or her school, activities, and community in the past

A child’s needs may change over time, and the age of a child also may have a significant impact on what is best for him or her in terms of custody and visitation. As a child ages, it is very possible that the parents will have to revisit a parenting plan and make some changes so as to better meet the child’s needs.

Divorce cases can be extremely complicated, lengthy, emotional, and stressful. No matter the complexity of the issues in your case, we are here to help. The attorneys of Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled all cases involving all aspects of divorce and family law, including child custody, paternity, child support, parenting plans, and division of property . Please contact an experienced Washington divorce attorney at our office if you have any questions about divorce or family law in the state of Washington.