Washington laws about custody do not reference the sex of the parents involved. Despite some people claiming that mothers receive preferential consideration, the law wants a judge to keep the focus on the best interests of the children.
Decades of research have helped establish that co-parenting relationships are usually the best solution for the children. Most Washington family law judges expect you to cooperate with the other parent for the support and well-being of your children. They will likely split both parenting time and decision-making responsibility between you and your ex.
What are some of the rare situations in which you could potentially get sole custody of your children?
When your ex is abusive toward you or the kids
If your ex has injured you or the children or engaged in extensive emotional abuse, their misconduct might make them an unfit parent until they seek help. The more documentation you have of this conduct, the better the chances that the courts will limit your ex’s parenting time for the protection of your children.
Typically, abuse towards the children will have a bigger impact than abuse toward another adult, but if the children witness one adult abusing the other, that could also influence a judge’s decision in custody matters.
When they have physical or mental health issues
Someone undergoing aggressive chemotherapy at the hospital won’t be in a position to take care of an infant. A parent struggling with alcoholism or depression may not be able to get the children to school reliably, let alone give them the loving home environment necessary for healthy development.
If you have police reports or hospital records affirming your claims of health concerns or substance abuse, you can potentially get sole custody.
When your ex has tried to alienate you from the children
Parental alienation or the intentional interference of one parent in the relationship that the other has with the children is a serious issue that can lead to long-term psychological damage for the children and the family.
If your ex has intentionally made you look bad to the children or prevented you from spending time with them, you could potentially present evidence of that misconduct in court. Judges may limit their parenting time as a reflection of how they put their own wishes ahead of what was best for the children.
Learning more about Washington’s child custody laws will help you protect your relationship with your children.