Child Custody Laws in Washington

Mother giving piggy back ride to daughter

Family laws and courts in Washington are much like those of any other state. It is important to get to know the Washington child custody laws in order to reduce the chance for any surprises when you do end up in the courtroom. By familiarizing yourself with the standard practices and regulations of the state you will be prepared for anything that may come up.

What you can expect for Washington child custody laws

Every case of divorce in Washington that involves child custody must first be dealt with by the co-parents. The co-parents are required to submit a parenting plan, which includes the details of their child custody agreement. This plan will include the details of the physical custody, legal custody, visitation time, and so on. If the co-parents are not able to reach an agreement on their parenting plan, the Washington child custody laws and courts will create a parenting plan for them based on their observations of the family in the courtroom.

In every case, the Washington child custody laws and courts uphold the best interest of the child above all else when determining a custody arrangement. The first thing that the Washington child custody laws and courts look to when determining the best interest of the child is the strength, nature, and stability of the relationship that the child has with both co-parents. Other factors used to determine a custody arrangement may include but are not limited to:

  • Which parent has taken greater responsibility of the child; meaning which parent has consistently acted as the primary caretaker of the child in the past.
  • The physical and psychological health of everyone involved; this includes both of the co-parents and each child.
  • The Washington child custody laws and courts may consider the wishes of the child if the child is of an appropriate age and maturity level. The courts will also consider the wishes of the co-parents.
  • The ability of each co-parent to care for the child; this would include observing the work schedule of the parents, their geographic location, their current lifestyles, and so on.

Washington child custody laws and the OurFamilyWizard® website

The OurFamilyWizard® website recognizes the Washington child custody laws and the regular practices of the Washington family courts. The provided information is not intended to be used as professional legal information. For a list of Washington child custody laws and courts resources please visit the Washington – Helpful Links section. The OurFamilyWizard website® can turn your co-parenting plan into organized and easy tasks with the use of helpful online shared parenting tools. These tools help to greatly reduce conflict between you and your co-parent, providing a safe and healthy environment for your children. After consulting an attorney about Washington child custody laws, ask about how the OurFamilyWizard website® can help you to fulfill your rights and responsibilities as a co-parent.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.