Unfortunately, in some Washington State child custody cases, there are parenting problems that make the situation difficult and require legal intervention on the part of the courts. In certain instances, one or both parents will have personal issues that render them unable to be effective and trustworthy parents. Frequent issues that the courts see include child abuse, neglecting the child, domestic abuse, substance abuse, the decision on the part of one parent to withhold the child from the other parent, impairments that limit or eliminate a parent's ability to take care of the child and abandonment.
If any of these factors are in place, it is possible that the court will have to limit the amount of time the problem parent has with the child. It is also possible that the parent be required to take certain programs to improve the parenting skills or be admitted into a treatment program for substance abuse. Another potential problem is if one of the parents has been convicted of a sex crime. A sex offender will likely be prohibited from having visitation rights. If they are allowed, they will be under supervision and strict parameters.
Another issue that commonly comes up is how much influence a child will have as to where he or she will live. In Washington State, the decision is left up to the adults, unless the child is considered to be of age to have a say. Maturity is also a factor. The state does not have a specific age at which the child will be considered old enough and mature enough to be able to take part in the decision. In general, the court will want to keep the child out of the decision for the best interests of the child.
With a child custody dispute, there are many different considerations when the decision is made regarding child custody, visitation rights and more. Those who are dealing with a problem spouse or a third party who sees that both parents are leaving their child in danger need to have a grasp on how the law handles this. Another issue is how the child sees these situations and if he or she is old enough to voice an opinion and have it granted weight. Those who are concerned about parental rights need to have a firm legal ground and discuss the matter with a legal professional as soon as possible.
Source: Courts.WA.gov, "Family Law Handbook, pages 13-14," accessed on Nov. 10, 2015