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Washington Child Custody Laws

Figuring out child custody arrangements can be a difficult legal process, often putting children in the middle of a contentious court proceeding. Most states, including Washington, offer the option of joint custody but also consider the wishes of the child when determining custody. Additionally, Washington's child custody laws recognize the visitation rights of grandparents.

This article provides a brief overview of child custody laws in the state of Washington.


Washington Child Custody Laws: The Basics

The first thing to know about child custody laws in Washington is the correct terminology. Washington child custody laws don't use the terms "custody" and "visitation." Instead, they refer to these arrangements collectively as a "parenting plan."

While reading a statute is important, it can often be a daunting task since statutory law is usually written in outdated or legalistic language. For this reason, it's beneficial to read an overview of the statute as well.

You can find additional details about Washington child custody laws in the chart below. See FindLaw's extensive Child Custody section for more articles and resources.


§ 26.09.181 et seq. of the Washington Revised Code

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, but "custody" is not a term used in Washington, but the state does permit the allocation of parenting responsibilities, including making major decisions, between the parents

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, § 26.11.010

Child's Own Wishes Considered?

Yes, if the child is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to their residential schedule

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Child Custody Laws: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.

Have Questions About Washington Child Custody Laws? Talk to an Attorney

Learning more about Washington's family laws, particularly those relating to child custody, can often lead you to even more legal questions. If you're dealing with a child custody matter in Washington, it's a good idea to consult with a local child custody lawyer who can help you in your efforts to act in the best interests of your child.

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