In the State of Washington, divorcing couples are required by law to enter a Parenting Plan. Parenting plans can also be entered for paternity matters, which involve unmarried couples with minor children. This order details the provisions surrounding parenting in three basic areas:
- Residential Provisions – where the children will reside, including during the school year, summer vacation, and school breaks
- Decision-Making Authority – including decisions regarding daycare, education, and religious upbringing
- Dispute Resolution – how the parents will handle any disputes that may arise with regard to the parenting plan
These provisions can be customized to fit the children’s and parents needs to a very large degree. However, the court holds the final authority to accept or reject a proposed parenting plan under the standard of the best interests of the children. Many counties, including King and Snohomish, require parents to attend a parenting seminar prior to entry of the final parenting plan.
The Collaborative Law process enables the parents to decide together the futures of their children as well as themselves. It is based on the premise that, given the opportunity, people will do what is best for their children. No one knows your children and your circumstances better than you do – so why would you put your future into the hands of a stranger, albeit one with the best of intentions, when you are in the best position to make those decisions for yourself?