Divorced clients typically ask whether their children can choose which parent to deal with. The answer depends upon the timing of the kids’ input. Kids 1) often have a say while their parenting plan (i.e. child custody order) is being formulated, 2) generally have no choice while their parenting plan remains in location, and 3) have a say once again during custody adjustment actions.

1. Before a Parenting Plan Remains In Place. RCW 26.09.187 provides that courts need to highly think about child-parent bonds when assigning residential time in a parenting plan. Probably this suggests children can influence their residential (custody) placement by suggesting which moms and dad they like best. Courts provide more weight to older children’s choices, and teens can have a definitive influence on custody by choosing one moms and dad over the other.

Getting kids’s preferences before a court can be challenging however. States statements from minors are disfavored. Other courts and jurists disfavor testament from minors as well. Usually the most safe method to communicate a child’s preference to the court is to ask for a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem is a court-appointed representative who can supply the court with a report stating, among other things, who kids choose.

2. While a Parenting Strategy Is In Place. After the parenting plan remains in location, kids generally have hardly any option in which moms and dad they cope with. This guideline originates from the seminal Washington Supreme Court case In re Marriage of Rideout, 150 Wash. 2d 337 (2003). The Rideout case explained that children as old as thirteen can not choose whether to override the residential provisions of their custody plan, regardless the children’s protestations.

This author’s practical experience recommends Washington courts tend to follow the Rideout guideline regardless the kids’s ages. Rumor has it some judges and commissioners are willing to think about kids’s desires when the children are fourteen or older. However difficult Rideout is a dangerous proposition that can lead to findings of contempt.

3. When Custody is Being Modified. An action for major adjustment of the parenting strategy again opens the door for kids’s input, due to the fact that the court once again determines property placement. Filing an action for modification is no simple matter though, even when the kids strongly wish to come live with the customizing party. Substantial barriers avoid parents from filing most kinds of modifications absent a qualifying considerable change in scenarios.

As soon as one of these four requirements are met, the court will typically think about children’s opinions to the very same level as when a parenting plan is first formulated. Contact for more information on spousal maintenance Kennewick.