The judicial system in Washington wants to do what’s in the best interests of the child when making decisions on child custody. Joint custody is usually preferable. Exceptions are when the other parent is neglectful, abusive or unsafe to be around.
Focus on your child’s well-being
Ask yourself what’s in the best interest of your child. It’s important for children to have both parents in their lives. Unless the other parent is unfit, then you may want to come to acceptance that joint custody could be best. If the judge notices that you seem to put yourself first, then this could hurt your attempt to gain custody over your child.
Collect evidence if necessary
In situations where the other parent really is unfit, you should gather evidence to help prove your claims and protect your child. Substance use, neglect, abuse and failing to provide proper guidance, support and care are what an unfit parent is under Washington child custody law.
Gather positive evidence
You should collect evidence of the positive influence you have in your child’s life. Take pictures when you’re spending time together or looking after your child. This helps prove your case in court that you’re fulfilling their needs. Also, ask teachers, neighbors and other relevant people if they’re willing to vouch for you.
Don’t badmouth your former spouse
The court frowns upon either spouse talking negatively of the other, especially if it’s to the children. Even if your kids are teenagers, it’s not appropriate to speak about the flaws of their other parent to them. Don’t post negative remarks about your former spouse on social media either. Avoid fighting with your former spouse too. Keep all interactions civil. If you’re finding it challenging to control your emotions, consider seeing a therapist for help.
It might not be possible for you to get sole custody over your child if the other parent is also a good fit. Washington typically only gives sole custody when the other parent is neglectful or abusive. You could, however, protect your ability to receive at least joint custody by following the tips above.