Custody and parenting: What constitutes neglect?

Some parents in Washington file for divorce, hoping to be the sole custodians of their kids. Custody and parenting issues can be complex and often spark contention between former spouses who do not agree on what's best for the children involved. In fact, there are many instances where one parent believes that the other parent's presence is a detriment to the children's well-being.

It is not enough to think it or even to tell the court about it. If a parent is going to request sole custody on grounds that the other parent is unfit, he or she must be able to substantiate his or her claim. This means the court wants to see evidence. A parent being late a couple times for parenting time does not necessarily mean he or she is unfit or negligent in parental duties.

However, if a parent stays out partying all night while young children are home alone, that's an entirely different matter, one the court would definitely want to know about. If a parent withholds affection from a child or uses the threat of the same to demand certain behavior or actions from a child, it may be a sign of emotional abuse. Any child that arrives back home to the custodial parent looking tattered or lacking personal hygiene certainly warrants further investigation and, perhaps, bringing the issue to the court's attention.

Placing children in harm's way, exposing them to substance abuse or licentious behavior and any number of other issues may also constitute child neglect. In all custody and parenting matters, the court has children's best interests in mind. Any Washington parent currently facing such problems may wish to discuss the situation with an experienced family law attorney before filing a petition in court.

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