Child Custody in Washington, D.C.

Familiarize Yourself with Child Custody Laws in the District of Columbia

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Washington, D.C. uses several criteria to determine child custody laws. Primarily, the court will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Washington, D.C. should first become familiar with the custody statutes.

Best Interests of Child

Child custody in Washington, D.C. is determined based on the best interests of the child. Factors included in determining a child's best interests are:

  • The child's wishes, if the child is of a sufficient age and capacity to make a reasoned decision (age 12 or older)
  • Each parent's wishes
  • The child's adjustment to school, home, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The child's relationship with his/her parents, siblings and extended family members
  • The geographical proximity of the parents' homes
  • Each parent's ability to communicate with one another and make decisions that affect the child
  • The demands of each parent's employment

The Use of a Parenting Plan in Washington, D.C.

In making a custody determination, a District of Columbia court may require both parents to submit a parenting plan to the court to explain the rights and responsibilities of each parent concerning the rearing of the child. A parenting plan may include information concerning:

  • The child's education
  • The residence of the child
  • Visitation (holidays, weekends, or summer vacations)
  • Religious training
  • Communication between the child and the child's parents

Joint Child Custody in Washington, D.C.

A court in the District of Columbia assumes that joint custody is in the best interests of the child unless there's a history of child abuse, neglect, parental kidnapping or family violence. In determining an award of joint custody, a District of Columbia court will consider:

  • The parenting plans submitted to the court
  • Which parent will make major decisions concerning the health, safety, and welfare of the child
  • Whether the parents should attend a parenting class

For more information about child custody in Washington, D.C., speak with a qualified attorney in Washington, D.C. or refer to the District of Columbia Domestic Relations statute.