Washington evaluates each parent to determine whether it’s safe to give joint child custody to them. If one of the parents isn’t fit, then the state will award sole custody to the other. Excluding cases of severe abuse and neglect, the unfit parent would likely have visitation rights when they lose joint custody.
Document 191 factors
If your child’s other parent abuses them or you, then this will influence a court’s decision. Washington RCW 26.09.191 lists specific behaviors that you could watch out for. This will let you know what abusive signs to keep track of in a journal. Include evidence of these instances whenever possible. Audio recordings, transcripts of text messages and emails and video recordings help prove your case. You may want to be discreet about the fact that you’re documenting their 191 factors to prevent them from changing how they act.
Gather witness testimonies
To build a stronger case against the other parent, you could gather testimonies from people who have observed their domestic behavior. You don’t need to wait until they’re in court. Washington allows you to gather informal statements from witnesses while preparing your argument.
Document the emotional bond with your child
Parents may document the emotional bond that they have with their child to help prove to the court that they play a meaningful role in their child’s life. To do this, you could keep a journal of what you do to take care of your child and the fun experiences that you have together. Taking pictures or video recordings is a good idea to support your claims. You could keep receipts and tickets for events as well.
Live in a good neighborhood
The court takes into consideration how safe each parent’s living environment is. You may want to move to a safer neighborhood to avoid having this issue held against you.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
The court examines each parent’s health as well. Even something as minor as quitting cigarettes could make a difference in how the court sees you. Having good mental health is also important in child custody. Parents who aren’t mentally stable will have more difficulty raising their children.
Whether you’re going after joint or sole child custody, it’s important to be able to prove that you’re a fit parent. You could take a proactive approach by documenting all appropriate information.