Determining child custody can be a stressful and emotional process. Here’s how to get temporary custody in Washington State.

Whether it is during a divorce process, for emergency purposes, or due to deployment, a court may have to order temporary child custody.

Filing for Temporary Custody

A “parenting plan” is the official term for a child custody order in Washington state. Parenting plans detail the custody decision, parenting functions, decision-making authority, and residential schedules. If a parent files for a temporary custody order, a Washington court will issue a temporary parenting plan detailing the child custody and visitation rules both parents must follow until the Washington court makes its final child custody decision.

Washington courts may determine child custody when the co-parents file for divorce, legal separation, establish paternity, modify their existing custody order, or for other reasons. The Washington court will establish a temporary parenting plan to determine temporary custody before the final parenting plan in all of these cases. If a parent is filing for temporary custody due to a divorce, the divorce case must exist or start when the parent files the motion for temporary custody.

A parent must file the Motion for Temporary Family Law Order with the Superior Court Clerk to file for temporary custody. Each Washington county will have different local court rules.

Emergency Temporary Custody

Someone files for custody in Washington State only when they file for temporary emergency custody. Washington courts will issue an emergency temporary custody order if a child is in immediate danger due to a parent’s substance abuse, abandonment, or other dangerous behavior.

To file for temporary emergency custody, a parent must file the Motion for Immediate Order (Ex Parte) – Emergency Minor Guardianship and Restraining Order with the Superior Court Clerk. Each Washington county will have different local court rules.

Temporary Custody for Military Deployment

A Washington court may issue a temporary child custody order if the military deploys or temporarily relocates a parent with whom a child primarily lives. The temporary custody order expires ten days after the parent’s return. However, if someone believes a returning parent may cause harm to the child, they can file a motion with the court, in which the court would hold an emergency hearing to determine the child’s custody. However, a temporary custodian may not use their temporary custody order from a parent’s deployment as grounds to file for a separate custody or visitation order.

Can I still file for an emergency temporary custody order if I don’t have a parenting plan?

Every parent has the right to file for an emergency temporary custody order, regardless of their child custody status. The right to file applies to married and divorced parents, with or without parenting plans. Washington State’s priority is to keep a child safe and ensure access to emergency temporary parenting plans when necessary.

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If you or a loved one would like to know more about how to get temporary custody in Washington, get your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys today!