In the state of Washington, parents may be granted sole or joint physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody determines with whom the child lives and spends a significant amount of time. Legal custody determines which parent makes crucial decisions regarding health, education, and other important events in a child’s life.
It is assumed that the parents will seek an agreement on how custody, visitation, parental rights, and liabilities should be shared, and then prepare their parenting plan, which must be submitted with the court. If the judge finds the plan reasonable and in the best interests of the child, it is typically approved.
If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, they will have to entrust the custody decision to the judge. The judge's decision is typically final.