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How To File For Temporary Custody In Washington State In 2023

How to file for temporary custody in Washington State is proceeded for child custody arrangements. These detailed plans outline custody determinations, parental responsibilities, decision-making authority, and residential schedules.

Author:James Pierce
Reviewer:Paolo Reyna
Nov 06, 20234.7K Shares191.6K Views
How to file for temporary custody in Washington Stateis proceeded for child custody arrangements. These detailed plans outline custody determinations, parental responsibilities, decision-making authority, and residential schedules.
When a parent seeks temporary custody, the Washington court issues a temporary parenting plan, outlining rules governing custody and visitation. These plans are necessary in various situations, such as divorce proceedings, legal separations, paternity establishment, or modifications to existing custody orders.
Washington courts establish temporary parenting plans as an interim measure until a permanent plan is in place. For example, if a parent seeks temporary custody during a divorce, the divorce case must be ongoing or officially initiated when the parent submits the motion for temporary custody.

Temporary Child Custody In Washington State

In Washington state, when it comes to child custody arrangements, the legal terminology used is a "parenting plan." These plans serve as official child custody orders and outline the details of custody decisions, the responsibilities of each parent, the authority for decision-making, and the schedules for the child's residence.
When a parent initiates the process of seeking temporary custody, the Washington court responds by issuing a temporary parenting plan, which specifies the rules for child custody and visitation that both parents must adhere to until the final child custody decision is made.
Temporary custody determinations may be required in various situations, such as during divorce proceedings, legal separations, paternity establishment, or custody order modifications. In all these cases, the Washington court will establish a temporary parenting plan as an interim measure before finalizing the permanent parenting plan.
For instance, if a parent seeks temporary custody due to a divorce, the divorce case must either be in progress or initiated when the parent submits the motion for temporary custody.
The process of filing for temporary custody involves the submission of a "Motion for Temporary Family Law Order" to the Superior Court Clerk. It's essential to note that each Washington county may have distinct local court rules that need to be followed during this process.

Emergency Temporary Custody

There are instances when the need for custody arrangements in Washington State is more urgent, leading to the filing of temporary emergency custody orders. The Washington courts respond to such situations by issuing an emergency temporary custody order when a child faces immediate danger resulting from a parent's substance abuse, abandonment, or other hazardous behaviors.
To initiate the process for temporary emergency custody, a parent must complete and submit a "Motion for Immediate Order (Ex Parte) – Emergency Minor Guardianship and Restraining Order" to the Superior Court Clerk. Keep in mind that different Washington counties may have specific local court rules in place to address these situations.
Temporary child custody orders may be issued by a Washington court when a parent, with whom a child primarily resides, is deployed or temporarily relocated due to military service. These temporary custody orders remain in effect until ten days after the returning parent's return.
However, if there are concerns that the returning parent may pose a risk to the child, individuals can file a motion with the court. In such cases, the court will conduct an emergency hearing to determine the child's custody.
It's important to note that a temporary custodian cannot employ their temporary custody order arising from a parent's deployment as a basis for filing a separate custody or visitation order.
Two women are writing while other two women are watching them.
Two women are writing while other two women are watching them.

How To File For Temporary Custody In Washington State

Once your case is initiated and you've been assigned a case number, you have the opportunity to petition the court for a temporary parenting plan, which will establish a legally enforceable visitation schedule.
But what exactly is a temporary court order? It's a directive issued during the course of a family law court proceeding, bridging the gap between the commencement of the case and its finalization.
While my legal practice is based in Clark County, Washington, the general process I'm about to describe should apply similarly across various regions in the state.
Please keep in mind that this procedure can be intricate and challenging, and while this guide offers an overview, there may be unique circumstances or local variations to consider. Nevertheless, it should cover the fundamentals of establishing a temporary parenting plan in most cases.
Let's start with a broad view of the stages involved in your parenting plan or divorce case:
To request a temporary court order, you'll need to complete several forms, file them with the court, serve the other parent with copies, and prepare for an oral argument hearing before a judicial officer, who will ultimately issue the court order after considering both sides.
In Washington state, this process mandates the use of specific mandatory forms. You can obtain these forms at the Clerk's office of the Superior Court, where hard copies are available for purchase.
Alternatively, you can download them free of charge from the Washington state court's website. For the purpose of requesting a temporary parenting plan, you will require, at the very least, the following documents:
  • Motion for Temporary Family Law Order (FL Divorce 223):This document will include a statement in which you'll outline what you're seeking and the reasons behind it. Additionally, you can attach supporting exhibits or evidence at the end of this form to strengthen your argument, and you should reference these attachments in your statement.
  • Information for Temporary Parenting Plan (FL All Family 139):This form allows you to provide specific details necessary for the court regarding your parenting history and coordination of your child(ren).
  • Proposed Parenting Plan (FL All Family 140):This is the schedule you're proposing for parenting, which you're asking the court to adopt.
  • Notice of Hearing (FL All Family 185):This document serves as a scheduling tool. It's how you request a hearing date before a judicial officer to present your arguments and secure the court order. To schedule your hearing, you'll need to review your county's local rules or contact the Clerk's office at the courthouse.
  • Completing Legal Forms and Preparing for Filing
The next step involves filling out the documents listed above. If you encounter any confusion or would like a professional to review the documents (highly recommended), you can seek legal assistance from the following sources:
  • Contact a local attorney practicing family law in your county. You may reach out to me (360-216-1098) or another family law attorney in your area.
  • Visit the Family Court Facilitator, typically located at your local Superior Courthouse. This non-lawyer professional can help ensure you've filled out the correct paperwork.
  • Call the CLEAR hotline at 1-888-201-1014, which is a toll-free legal hotline for individuals with low incomes.
  • Explore, a resource offering free legal information and self-help materials for residents of Washington state.
Depending on your county, you may also have access to other free legal clinics where you can seek guidance. In Clark County, for instance, there's the Clark County Free Virtual Legal Clinic hosted by Navigate Law Group.

What To Expect On The Day Of Filing

After your documents are completed and ideally reviewed by a professional, you're ready to proceed with filing. Ensure you have the original documents and make three additional copies of each document. Bring all four sets (the original and three copies) to the Clerk's office at the Superior Courthouse.
Submit the original documents to the Clerk, indicating that you're filing for temporary orders. The Clerk will take the original documents and initiate the processing and filing procedures. Conform stamp your document copies. A conforming stamp indicates the date of filing and the courthouse where the documents were filed.
To do this, you can request the use of the Clerk's "conforming stamp" if you don't see it readily available at the Clerk's window. Place the stamp in the top right-hand corner of the document copies, leaving approximately three inches of space above the title or caption on the first page. Once your documents are stamped, and the Clerk processes your originals, take your copies and leave the Clerk's office.
You'll likely need to deliver a copy of everything you filed to the judicial officer responsible for your case. In Clark County, judicial officers have mailboxes where you can deposit hard copies of your filed documents. If you're unsure, contact the courthouse for guidance.

Serving The Other Parent After Filing Is Complete

Following the filing process, you'll need to provide the other parent with another set of copies. The other parent can be served in person by an individual who is over 18 years old and not you (this could be a professional process server, a friend or family member, or even the Sheriff's office).
However, it's important to note that personal service is not always mandatory for these documents, so you can alternatively mail a copy to the other parent if you have their mailing address (as a courtesy, consider emailing a copy as well, though mailing is still a requirement).
Once service is complete, the individual who served the other parent should complete the Proof of Service document and then file it at the courthouse in the Clerk's office. The Proof of Service document can also be downloaded for free from the Washington state court's website under the title "Proof of Mailing or Hand Delivery (for documents after Summons and Petition) (FL All Family 112)."
After service is complete, you'll be waiting for the other parent to file their responsive materials. The other parent is typically given a deadline for when they must file their responsive materials, and you can find this information in your county's local rules. In Clark County, for instance, the deadline for the other parent to submit their responsive materials is five court days before the hearing.
Once the other parent has filed their responsive materials, you may have the opportunity to file a brief reply statement. Check your local court rules and timeline for the deadlines associated with this step. For example, in Clark County, you can submit a two-page Reply statement in response to the other parent's response. This should be filed with the court and provided to the other party no later than three court days before the hearing.
While waiting for this process, you can also work on an outline for your oral argument. The outline will serve as your talking points during the hearing and should be a concise reference to the main arguments and requests you've made in your previously filed written statement.

Preparing For Your Court Hearing

On the day of the hearing, ensure that you arrive at your designated courtroom on time, armed with your argument outline. Dress in a professional manner, with business casual attire being appropriate. It's crucial to remain composed and professional in your interactions with the court and any attorneys involved.
Avoid interrupting when the judicial officer is speaking and wait quietly until your matter is called. The court will inform you when it's your turn to present your arguments.
Both parents and their attorneys will have an opportunity to make their case. Following the arguments, the judicial officer will make a decision. The decision will be documented in a court order, signed by the judge, and entered with the court as legally binding for both parents.
That's the process! Afterward, you will have a temporary parenting plan in place, which everyone must adhere to regarding the care and custody of your child while your case is in progress, heading toward a final resolution.
While this procedure can be complex and overwhelming, please don't hesitate to reach out if you encounter challenges or would like a review of your paperwork. I'm here to help.

How To File For Emergency Custody In Washington

If your ex-spouse poses an imminent threat to your kid, submit a request for an ex parte emergency child custody order in Washington as soon as possible. This may be accomplished by visiting your county's family courtroom or calling an attorney for quick help. You must give proof to back up your allegation, such as witness statements or pictures.
Following that, you will complete the necessary documents and submit them to a judge. If the court decides that emergency child custody is appropriate after reviewing your evidence, he or she will sign the ex parte order. The emergency order will then be in effect until your family appears at the hearing.

FAQs - How To File For Temporary Custody In Washington State

How Does One Apply For Temporary Custody In Washington State?

To apply for temporary custody in Washington State, you need to complete specific legal forms, file them with the court, and adhere to local court rules.
Generally, the process involves submitting a "Motion for Temporary Family Law Order" along with other required documents to the Superior Court Clerk.

What Happens If The Other Parent Objects To The Temporary Custody Request?

If the other parent disagrees with the temporary custody request in Washington State, they have the opportunity to respond to your motion.
After their response, the court may schedule a hearing where both parties can present their arguments. The judge will then make a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented.

Is It Possible To Get Temporary Custody In Washington State Quickly?

In certain cases where there's an immediate danger to the child, Washington State allows for the filing of emergency temporary custody orders.
These orders can be obtained relatively quickly, often through an "ex parte" motion, providing temporary protection for the child.

What Happens After The Temporary Custody Order In Washington State?

After the temporary custody order is granted, both parents must abide by the rules and schedules outlined in the order. This arrangement remains in effect until a final child custody decision is made, which can occur through divorce proceedings, legal separation, or other legal processes.

Can Temporary Custody Orders In Washington State Be Modified?

Temporary custody orders in Washington State can be modified, but the process is subject to legal requirements and should typically reflect a significant change in circumstances.
If such changes occur, a parent may file a motion with the court to request modifications to the temporary custody order, ultimately seeking the best interests of the child.

Final Words

How to file for temporary custody in Washington State is complex and requires a thorough understanding of the necessary steps.
Obtaining a temporary parenting plan is crucial for ensuring the well-being and stability of children during the tumultuous period before final custody determinations.
With the right legal guidance, understanding of necessary forms, and adherence to local court rules, parents can secure a temporary custody order to safeguard their child's best interests. In times of urgency, emergency custody is available, provided the necessary evidence is presented promptly.
Approaching these proceedings with diligence and professionalism is essential, as they significantly impact the child's welfare. If navigating the complexities of temporary child custody in Washington State, seeking professional legal assistance is a prudent choice.
An experienced family law attorney or resources like the Family Court Facilitator can provide guidance to ensure the child's best interests remain at the forefront of the legal process.
With the right resources and a clear understanding of the process, parents can take the necessary steps to secure their child's well-being both now and in the future.
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James Pierce

James Pierce

Paolo Reyna

Paolo Reyna

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