Call: 360-866-7393

How to Handle Custody and Visitation During the Divorce Process

Home / Divorce Blog / How to Handle Custody and Visitation During the Divorce Process

Divorce can be a lengthy and contentious process.  But there are some issues that must be addressed as soon as a couple is separating and cannot be delayed until finalization of the divorce.  Those concerns are usually dealt with through temporary agreements and temporary court orders.  

The needs of children must continue to be met, and issues of child custody and visitation, must be dealth with immediately. A temporary Parenting Plan (the legal document governing residential schedule and decision making in Washington) regarding who can see the children and when, is essential to maintaining parent/child relationships and establishing a stable environment for all involved.

While both parties work with their attorneys to reach a final, long-term arrangement, a temporary order will set expectations, help parents to understand their duties, and create structure. A short-term plan can minimize scheduling conflicts and make everyone aware of their responsibilities. Every family’s circumstances are different. A temporary order helps manage everyone’s schedules and ensures children are getting adequate quality time with each parent.

Divorce and Visitation: Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

When it comes to divorce and visitation, some parents file for sole custody. However, it is not frequently granted. In most cases, being with only one parent is not in the best interest of the child. If sole legal custody (decision-making authority) is awarded, the other parent usually still has residential time (visitation) with the child. Instances of sole custody designate one parent to make important decisions without the input of the other. 

Joint custody allows both parents access to their children. This is most relevant when parents are separated and living apart, regardless of whether the divorce is final.  Washington courts usually favor a joint custody arrangement, unless evidence shows that would be harmful to the children. Parents can receive joint or shared physical custody, which means they split residential time with the children. Joint legal custody, would mean both parents have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child.

How to Initiate a Temporary Order

Many custody cases are resolved without court involvement through informal negotiations. Some parents are able to set aside their differences and work together to develop a custody and visitation plan that works for their family. They’ll create a draft of their agreement, sign it, and submit it to a judge for approval.

It’s important that both parties understand the conditions expressed in the agreement and comply with the order. Once accepted, the document is a binding agreement. Any parent who violates the terms and conditions are subject to being found in contempt of court.

If a soon-to-be divorcing couple does not agree on custody and visitation terms, they will be ordered to at least attempt to work with a third party to create a parenting plan. This process is a bit more involved, as it can require mediation or a settlement conference to reach a final conclusion. This type of dispute resolution is a good option for parents who are involved in a complicated custody battle or are unwilling to work together to reach a solution. 

A parent who wishes to initiate a legal temporary ordered Parenting Plan after (or in conjunction with) filing for divorce will need to file a motion with the court showing why it’s necessary and proposing a plan. The parent must remember that the goal of a temporary agreement is to put in place a plan that prioritizes the best interest of the child until a divorce agreement can be reached. A judge will either accept your plan or create a temporary order for you to adhere to until your divorce decree establishes a permanent solution.

Temporary parenting plan orders are often the basis for the permanent parenting plan which is incorporated into the final divorce decree.  Therefore, it is important to understand that decisions you make with temporary parenting  agreements, early in your separation, are likely to influence your long-term relationship with, and access to, your children.  If you give up parental rights in your temporary parenting plan, it will be difficult to change that later and recover rights in the permanent parenting plan.  It is best to see the temporary parenting plan as a template for what the permanent parenting plan will be.   

We’ll Help You Fight for Your Rights 

We know that maintaining a relationship with your kids is essential. Many Washington state dads going through divorce face uphill battles to gain access to their own children. Divorce Lawyers for Men wants to help you fight for your rights as a father.

Contact us today for a consultation if you need divorce lawyers for men in Vancouver, Washington and to learn more about how we can work for you.

Real People, Real Results

Divorce Lawyers for Men Reviews

"I never thought my wife would agree to anything. After a few discussions though, we were able to agree on a lot of issues concerning the children. Divorce Lawyers for Men helped me put those agreements in writing and resolve my divorce with less conflict."

"Divorce Lawyers for Men was very helpful with my case. The staff and attorneys are very knowledgeable and provided great advice. They provided me understanding of various courses of action and brought to light specific things I wouldn't have thought of. Most importantly respected my decisions and beliefs in finalizing my case."

"My wife wanted to live in our house with her new boyfriend while I kept paying the mortgage. Divorce Lawyers for Men made sure the court saw all our property and debts. We sold the house and split the proceeds. I didn't have to pay for any free rides."

"I never wanted to get divorced. One day my wife came home and said that she had met someone else. Why do I have to lose my house and my children just because she is done with our marriage? Thankfully, I hired Divorce Lawyers for Men."

Washington's Only Statewide Family Law Network

Select an Office near You.

1520 140th Ave NE #200
Bellevue, WA 98005
2727 Oakes Ave #201
Everett, WA 98201
555 W Smith Street, Suite 106
Kent, WA 98032
3025 Limited Ln NW #200
Olympia, WA 98502
Port Orchard
1740 Pottery Ave #300
Port Orchard, WA 98366
2102 E Main Ave #203
Puyallup, WA 98372
701 5th Ave #4200
Seattle, WA 98101
1008 N. Washington St., Second Floor
Spokane, WA 99201
1015 Pacific Avenue #301
Tacoma, WA 98402
237 NE Chkalov Dr #212
Vancouver, WA 98684