Child Support & Custody

When children are involved, separation or divorce is more complicated and emotionally charged. It’s not uncommon for spouses to have child support and child custody issues. At James Pleasants P.C., we will work to get you a resolution that works for the family. We have years of experience handling both simple and complicated child custody cases along with associated problems like visitation rights and special needs.

Bellevue Child Support and Custody Attorney: James Pleasants P.C.

There are a wide variety of circumstances that can make a child custody case difficult. Examples include domestic abuse, allegations of neglect, children with special medical needs and more. Washington counties generally require parties to attempt to resolve these issues before trial through mediation programs that provide neutral third parties who don’t advocate for either party but work to bring agreement as to what is best for the child. The mediators helps facilitate the meetings so that both parties take an active role in creating a child custody and child support agreement that is suitable for both parties. During mediation, we act as your legal advisor to help you determine your rights and what is practicable. With the court’s approval, the mediation settlement agreement becomes part of a court order. Typically, the breakup of a marriage is more traumatic for the children than the parents. Mediation seeks to make the transition as conflict-free and smooth as possible for everyone involved. In Washington, we ask the parents to focus on arriving at a workable parenting plan and residential schedule that keeps both parents as involved as possible, rather than on trying to win a “custody battle.”

Mediation or Litigation

If mediation fails to resolve the issues surrounding child support or child custody, a superior court judge is authorized to decide who should have custody, how much child support the noncustodial parent will pay and how much visitation the noncustodial parent will have. Along with being expensive, litigation means that the parents give up control over decision making that has an impact on their child’s lives. No judge can ever know as much about the child’s needs as the parents do. Litigation also often ends with both parties feeling unhappy and bitter about the results. Using the courts to resolve issues of child support and child custody should only be a last resort.

When deciding who should be the primary care provider to the child, there are certain issues and facts the judge looks at to determine the best interests and welfare of the child. Here are some factors judges usually consider:

  • Who has historically been the primary care provider, and who is the child bonded with psychologically?
  • What is the parental, emotional and physical ability of each parent?
  • What is the work schedule of each parent?
  • Is either parent really unable or unfit to appropriately raise the child?

There is no legal presumption for either the father or mother as the primary parents. The ultimate question is the best welfare of the child.

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