How to Get Sole Custody of My Unborn Baby in Washington

By Elizabeth Rayne

In Washington, it is not possible to obtain sole custody of an unborn child because courts will not make custody determinations until the child is born. However, courts cannot delay or deny a divorce based on a pregnancy, meaning you may still divorce while one spouse is pregnant, and then reserve the issue of custody until later. Like all states, courts in Washington will determine custody based on what is in the best interests of the child.

"Sole Custody" Overview

Once the child is born, you may obtain a parenting plan. The Washington courts do not use terms such as "joint custody" or "sole custody." Instead, a parenting plan spells out how much time the child will spend with each parent, who makes decisions for the child, and how conflicts between the parents should be resolved. The parents may come up with their own parenting plan, which the court will likely approve. When the parents cannot agree, the court will hold a hearing to determine the parenting plan based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Proposed Parenting Plan

If you and your spouse cannot agree to the parenting schedule, you may submit a proposed parenting plan to have the court determine the custody arrangement. The plan may be submitted as part of the original divorce petition, even though the judge will not determine custody until after the child is born. You may "reserve" the issue of custody until after the child is born, meaning you do not need to pay a new filing fee to determine custody at the later date. On the parenting plan form you may ask the court to not award any parenting time to the other parent.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Unfit Parent

Unless the court finds that one parent is "unfit," both parents will have the right to spend time with and make decisions for the child. For example, if a parent provides evidence of physical or sexual abuse, or a parent willfully abandoned the child for an extended period of time, the court in its discretion may find that the parent is unfit. In making decisions on custody, the court is primarily concerned with what is in the best interests of the child, and parenting time will only be restricted if the child's health or safety may be at risk. As an alternative to restricting parenting time, the court may instead order supervised visitation.

Agreed Parenting Plan

The parents may agree that only one parent should take care of the child. In this case, the parents may submit an agreed upon parenting plan to the court, which in most cases, the court will approve. However, the court will still review the parenting plan, and the plan may be rejected if the court finds it is not in the child's best interests. While it is ultimately up to the discretion of the court, in previous cases Washington courts have approved parenting plans which only gave parenting time to one parent, even where the other parent was not found unfit.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Filing for Physical Custody in Virginia

References

Related articles

Can an Open Drug Case Affect Child Custody in GA?

A parent's illegal drug use can factor into custody and visitation determinations in Georgia. The degree to which a criminal court case can negatively affect a parent's access to his or her child often depends on whether the drug case is currently open, or ongoing, and whether sufficient time has elapsed since any previous drug charges. The extent to which a parent has been cooperative in rehabilitation programs will also be an important consideration when deciding custody arrangements.

The Father of My Child Has My Son & Won't Give Him to Me, and Neither of Us Have Custody

If you were never married to your child’s father, you probably have legal custody without realizing it, even if you don’t have a court order. If you were married but have separated, you also have legal custody without a court order. However, even with legal custody, there may be difficulties in forcing your child's father to return him to you.

How to Get Child Custody If a Parent Refuses to Sign the Papers

Because child custody disputes can be contentious and stressful, family courts encourage parents to settle their disputes on their own. This not only shields the child from the stress of a custody fight, but it also allows the parents the autonomy to work out a custody plan that works with both parents' schedules and the child's needs. When one parent refuses to sign a proposed parenting plan or settle a custody dispute, however, you will need to use the court system to resolve your custody issues.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What a Judge Looks at in Custody Hearing in Illinois

Custody disputes may be a highly contentious and emotional issue for recently divorced parents. In making a custody ...

How to Get Full Custody in the State of Alabama

A fight over child custody is often immensely stressful for both parents and children. Alabama recognizes two types of ...

What Is a "Change in Circumstances" in a Custody Case?

Whether the case is concerning an original custody order or a custody modification, courts in every state are primarily ...

Nevada State Laws on Custody Prior to Divorce

Often, parents in Nevada will ask the court to make a temporary custody determination before the divorce is final. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED