Washington Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

The laws about Washington parenting time schedules are found in Chapter 26.09 in the Revised Code of Washington.

Here are some guidelines from the law to help you make your parenting time schedule.

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Parenting residential schedule

Washington doesn't use the term custody and visitation schedule. Instead, parents must create a residential schedule that shows which parent's home the child resides in on any given day of the year.

Your schedule is part of your parenting plan and should contain:

  • The every day schedule that shows where your child is on weekdays and weekends
  • The holiday schedule that shows where your child is on holidays, family member's birthdays, and other special occasions
  • The summer break schedule that shows where your child is during summer break and other school breaks

You should make your schedule so that it fulfills the needs of your child and allows your child to have a stable, loving relationship with both parents.

If in the best interest of your child, you can have supervised visitation where another adult is present during a parent's time.

Provisions about your schedule in your plan

You can include provisions in your parenting plan to help your schedule run smoothly.

Some common provisions to include in your plan are:

Factors to consider when making your schedule

As you make your schedule, you should consider the following:

  • The relative strength, nature and stability of the child's relationship with each parent
  • The agreements parents have made about the schedule
  • How parents have shared parenting functions
  • If one parent has taken greater responsibility taking care of the daily needs of the child
  • The emotional needs and developmental level of the child
  • The child's relationship with siblings and other significant adults
  • The child's involvement with school, community, and other significant activities
  • The wishes of the parents
  • The wishes of the child who is able to express reasoned preferences
  • Each parent's employment schedule
  • The geographic proximity of the parents' homes

Thinking about these factors will help you make a schedule that works for your family. The court also considers these factors when looking to approve a schedule that parents have made or the court is making a schedule for parents who don't agree.

Process to make your schedule

Courts in Washington encourage parents to work together to make a schedule they both agree on.

If you and the other parent do not agree on the schedule, the court may require you to attend mediation. In mediation you will work with a neutral third party to create your schedule.

When parents submit a schedule together to the court, the court will most likely approve it and make it part of the court order. The court does not approve schedules that are not in the best interest of the child.

If you and the other parent cannot agree on a schedule on your own or in mediation, the court will decide your schedule. Each parent should submit a proposed schedule and plan to the court and a judge will decide a plan for the child. The judge may decide to approve either parent's schedule or a new schedule.

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The top twenty cities in Washington (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Spokane Valley, Federal Way, Yakima, Kent, Bellingham, Kennewick, Renton, Lakewood, Auburn, Pasco, Shoreline, Redmond, Kirkland, Richland.

Custody X Change is software that creates parenting time schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.

Make Your Schedule