Tacoma Child Custody Attorneys

A parenting plan that’s right for your kids

Changing relationships can be scary and intimidating to all involved, especially children. Our Tacoma child custody attorneys will listen to your situation and help craft the best legal approach to protect your children.

As a parent, you know what is best for your child. Our Tacoma child custody lawyers will help you advocate for what is in your child’s best interest during the divorce or legal separation process. We can also handle some of the more confusing areas associated with child custody. Whether you're wondering about Washington State custody laws for unmarried parents or how child custody and relocation work, we can give you wise counsel and strong representation.

Parenting Plans

The parenting plan entered by the court is by far the most important document that the court will enter during your divorce. The final parenting plan is extremely hard to change, once it is entered. So, you need a skilled child custody attorney who can help foresee problems and guide you in creating a parenting plan that is truly in your child’s best interest.

Guardian ad Litems

Often parents are unable to agree on who should be the “primary” parent and how visitation should occur. Sometimes, in these situations, it is necessary for the court to appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate your unique situation.

What is a guardian ad litem (GAL)?

The GAL is the person who recommends to the court what he or she believes is in the best interest of your child. Our experienced Tacoma child custody attorneys will help guide you in the GAL-investigation process and help prepare you to put your best foot forward.

We understand that decisions regarding child custody cases are emotion charged and will have profound impacts on you and your child. Being compassionate advocates, our Tacoma child custody lawyers will work tirelessly with you to obtain a result that is in your child’s best interest.

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What is included in a parenting plan?▾

As the Office Dog at a Helland Law Group, I’ve had lots of chances to see our attorneys in action — and you couldn’t ask for smarter, kinder lawyers. When it comes to parenting plans, they’ll give you advice as if for one of their close family members. A parenting plan most commonly includes provisions dealing with where a child will reside at any given time. It also makes provisions for how holidays and school breaks are divided. Many other things might be included in the parenting plan as the parties see fit in their unique circumstance.

What is the “custodial parent”? ▾

This is going to get technical, so go with me. The term “custodial parent" may mean different things to different people. For some people, this phrase refers to the parent that has a majority of the residential time with the child under the parenting plan. For others, this may refer to paragraph 3.12 in the parenting plan that designates a “custodial parent for purposes of other statutes.” Paragraph 3.12 has almost no meaningful effect on most parents’ rights. Bottom line: you should discuss your individual circumstance with a one of our Tacoma child custody attorneys to see if this paragraph will be meaningful in your case.

How is a parenting plan established? ▾

Parenting plans are complicated subject even for a seasoned Canine Liaison like me, but I can give you the basics. Parenting plans are mainly determined through agreement or court order. If the parties agree on the terms of a parenting plan, it’s pretty straightforward to get the plan entered. However, often times there are questions regarding the other party’s parenting abilities that must be resolved by the court. The court may, from time to time, appoint a “guardian ad litem (GAL) to investigate parenting issues. The GAL is a third party appointed by the court to investigate potential issues and make a recommendation to the court regarding a parenting plan.

How do we decide where our children will live before the final parenting plan is entered? ▾

Talk about a tough question. Determining where children will live prior to a final parenting plan is done by court order, if there’s too much bad blood between parties to come to an agreement. If you and your spouse have a strong working relationship, it may be possible to reach a temporary agreement on your own.

I heard that I have to go to a parenting class. Is that true? ▾

Yes. Local Pierce County rules require that whenever children are involved in a legal proceeding, the parties must take a mandatory seminar. This is a one-time seminar that tends to focus on the impact of divorce on children and discusses how parties can work together to make the process easier on a child.

Can I get a parenting plan if I have never been married to the other parent? ▾

Yes. In Washington such actions are done through establishing paternity (having the court adjudicate who the father is). Once paternity is established, both parties are legally “parents” and may ask the court to determine a parenting plan and child support. Establishing a parenting plan for unmarried parents is largely done the same as for parents going through a divorce. For more on this, see our unmarried parents’ rights page. ***link****

What does joint custody mean? ▾

Figuring out the parenting schedule for your pack...er, I mean family...sometimes involves joint custody. A traditional parenting plan often places a child with one parent a majority of the time and the other parent has every other weekend plus some mid-week contact. However, this does not work in every situation. Therefore, it is often necessary to craft custody arrangements to meet the specific needs of the parties. Joint custody usually means a 50/50 parenting plan where the child resides an equal amount of time with both parents. This type of parenting plan is often only successful if the parents can cooperate to some degree and are geographically close enough to make the plan work. Our Tacoma child custody attorneys can discuss your particular case with you to determine what type of parenting plan best fits your family’s needs.

I have a final parenting plan, but what happens if either my spouse or I move some place new? ▾

Staying in the same “neck of the woods” with your ex is getting harder and harder due to today’s mobile job market. Washington law addresses this issue through legislation through child custody relocation ***link*** rules. Generally, a custodial parent wishing to relocate, must give the non-custodial parent proper notice of the relocation ― and an opportunity to object if there is an existing parenting plan. If the non-custodial parent objects, than the action is turned into a modification of the parenting plan with the burden normally on the objecting parent to demonstrate that it is not in the child’s best interest to relocate. If you are planning on relocating, or believe that your spouse is considering relocating, it is in your best interest to call an attorney to determine what legal implication relocation might have.