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Joint Custody Schedule for Divorcees in Washington State - Bellevue SEO & Video

Joint Custody Schedule for Divorcees in Washington State

Often one of the first questions parents going through divorce ask their attorney is, “What’s a normal parenting plan?” While Washington does not have a set joint custody schedule and parenting plan in place, many divorce attorneys keep an informal, uncodified standard. Many in the industry make the mistake of minimizing the complexity of joint custody schedules as just “every other weekend” parenting. Realistically, the details of co-parenting a divorce is something attorneys and judges must take into careful consideration because a child’s life and livelihood is involved.

When mapping out joint custody schedules, it is important to remember Washington state laws do not acknowledge the traditional terms “visitation” and “custody.” Instead, when creating the parenting plan, attorneys will specify how the parents are splitting residential care. There is the parent who cares for the child on a daily basis, and the other who cares for the child on specified days and dates.

The standard residential schedule is a simple split-weekend custody. It allows the child or children to visit their parent every other weekend and, sometimes, a mid-week evening visit. This standard joint custody schedule also allots shared holidays and special occasions, split 50/50 between each parent.

Washington state has a template for joint custody schedules, because using specific wording when discussing joint custody can be tricky, especially when adding the scheduling conflict for families with children under school age as well as of school age.

A common joint custody schedule that many attorneys like to follow is:

  • Children under school age are to primarily reside with the Petitioner. Days and times for the Respondent are as followed:
    • Every other weekend (5 p.m. Friday evening-5 p.m. Sunday evening)
    • Every Wednesday evening for three hours (5 p.m.-8 p.m.)
  • School age children shall follow the same weekly guidelines set for those not of school age with the exception of holidays and school breaks.
    • Holiday schedules in order:
      • New Year’s Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on even years, and Respondent on odd years.
      • Martin Luther King Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on odd years, and Respondent on even years.
      • President’s Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on even years, and Respondent on odd years.
      • Mother’s Day spent with the mother, Father’s Day spent with the father.
      • Memorial Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on odd years, and Respondent on even years.
      • Fourth of July: Petitioner receives child(ren) on even years, and Respondent on odd years.
      • Labor Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on odd years, and Respondent on even years.
      • Veterans’ Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on even years, and Respondent on odd years.
      • Thanksgiving: Petitioner receives child(ren) on odd years, and Respondent on even years.
      • Christmas Eve: Petitioner receives child(ren) on even years, and Respondent on odd years.
      • Christmas Day: Petitioner receives child(ren) on odd years, and Respondent on even years.
    • Winter break: Rotates on a two-year schedule, starting with the Petitioner. This split break is divided in half: from when school lets out until December 27th, and the 27th to the start of school in the new year.
      • During the first year of shared custody, the Petitioner will keep the child(ren) through the first half of winter break, the second half will be spent with the other parent for the remainder of the student’s vacation time.
      • During the second year, the winter break begins with the Respondent until December 27th, then follows with the Petitioner until the start of school in the new year.
    • Spring break will also alternate on a two-year schedule, but without the break split in half.
      • Every odd numbered year the Petitioner receives the student(s) through the entirety of spring break.
      • Every even numbered year the Respondent will receive the student(s) through the entirety of spring break.
    • If applicable, mid-winter break will also alternate on a two-year schedule.
      • Every odd numbered year the Respondent will receive the student(s) through the entirety of the mid-winter break.
      • Every even numbered year the Petitioner receives the student(s) through the entirety of the mid-winter break.
    • Summer breaks follow the same guidelines as the school year schedule.
  • Each parent, the Petitioner and Respondent, are entitled to fourteen days of vacation with the child(ren). The vacationing parent must send a written notification to the other parent thirty days prior to the vacation.

Navigating joint custody schedules can be difficult and drafting up a plan that fits your family can be a lot of work but informing yourself and finding a well versed attorney can make the entire process much easier.

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