Divorce, unfortunately, always carries the possibility of having negative effects on the children involved. And most often, divorcing parents want to act in the best interests of their children. When the parents have a good relationship, they may consider a "handshake" child custody arrangement in order to do "what's best" for the children. In Washington, as in any other state, this is not the best idea.
Child custody arrangements typically encompass many years. Over such a long course even the best post-martial relationships can hit a few rocky patches. For this reason, a formalized child custody arrangement can go a long way in setting out what each parent's responsibilities are and help the child or children acquire a sense of stability in the post-divorce environment.
Getting a child custody arrangement down on paper and signed off by a judge is does not have to be a combative process. In fact, it is always better if it is a collaboration between the parents, taking into account the interests and input of the children. Thus, even parents who get along well can benefit from having a formal document to which they can refer back, rather than relying on memory or counting on a continuing relationship.
Of course, parents can always agree on small compromises along the way, such as a temporary change of visitation schedule. However, if circumstances change over the long term, the parents can seek a modification of the child custody arrangement. Once again, if both parties agree, this is not a monumental task. The best thing parents can do is seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who can help negotiate and formalize a child custody arrangement. In the event of a divorce, our firm can help you with any issues you encounter along the way.
If the financial circumstances of one or both parties change, it may be possible to revisit the maintenance order by requesting a modification. Modification requests typically must be evaluated by the judge or court who issued the original maintenance order. Whether requesting maintenance for the first time or moving for a modification, maintenance issues can seem complicated. The assistance of a seasoned divorce attorney can help a party to a divorce or separation negotiate the maintenance process.