Family Law: Temporary Parenting Plan Criteria

When the parties separate during a divorce, and cannot agree on what the residential schedule should be for the minor children, it is not uncommon for either party to file a motion in Family Court to establish a Temporary Parenting Plan. The Washington statute, RCW 26.09.197 sets out the criteria for establishing the residential schedule for a Temporary Parenting Plan as follows:

RCW 26.09.197 Issuance of temporary parenting plan — Criteria.

After considering the affidavit required by RCW 26.09.194(1) and other relevant evidence presented, the court shall make a temporary parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child. In making this determination, the court shall give particular consideration to:

(1) The relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent; and

(2) Which parenting arrangements will cause the least disruption to the child’s emotional stability while the action is pending.

The court shall also consider the factors used to determine residential provisions in the permanent parenting plan.

The Court is relatively conservative, tending to preserve the status quo as much as possible. That tends to mean that the pattern the parties have voluntarily set up in the past, is likely to be a guide for the Court to use in setting the residential schedule for the future, unless there is a reason for doing things differently.