Washington Parenting Plan FAQ
By Erik Bjornson, Attorney at Law
Overview: The parenting plan is a court order that determined how much or little a parent is legally entitled to see their children. Great care should be taken when drafting the document.
- I have been served with divorce papers including a proposed parenting plan. What happens if I do not respond?
The most likely outcome is that the court will find you in default and sign off and enter the proposed parenting plan of your spouse, Thus, it is very important that you respond promptly once you are served with divorce papers.
- The is a court hearing date for temporary orders sent with the initial divorce papers including a motion for a temporary parenting plan. What is the role and effect of a temporary parenting plan entered?
At the time of the hearing, the court will likely enter a temporary parenting plan based primarily on the declarations of the parties. The parenting plan will determine the visitation rights of both parents until the case is settled, a modification of the plan is entered, or the court rules on the parenting plan at the end of trial.
- At the time of the court hearing, can't I just appear at court and tell the judge my side of the story and be treated fairly on parenting issues?
Yes, you can appear without any preparations. However, most Washington courts will only make their decision based on the record before them. This generally means they will only review declarations and affidavits that have been properly served and filed. Most county courts have their own particular rules on how this is to be accomplished as well as time requirements. There are also mandatory forms that must be completed and presented properly to the court and the other party. Thus, one must ensure that they are aware of how to respond properly or the court may base it's ruling on the parenting plan entirely on the position of the other spouse and will likely not permit you try to give testimony on the day of the hearing.
- My former spouse is not complying with the parenting plan. What can I do to enforce the plan and receive my visitation?
If the violation of the parenting plan is significant and your former spouse will not willingly comply with the plan, you may consider bringing a motion for contempt. A motion for contempt is basically a request to the court to enforce a prior court order and for the court to try to coerce the other party to comply with the parenting plan with the use of fines, sanctions as well as imprisonment.