Family Law Terms
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Child Custody (Custody)
The court's determination of which parent or other adult should have legal and/or physical responsibility for a minor child.
Washington State only makes a determination of "custody" for the purposes of the State and Federal laws that require such a designation (See Residential parent and non-residential parent below). Typically "custody" is awarded to the parent the child spends more overnights with in a 2 week period.
Another term for divorce.
Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
A person appointed by the court to represent the interest of a minor child/children or an adult who is unable to handle their own affairs in the case.
A sum of money paid to one party after a legal action to assist with living expenses.
After a divorce, one party may receive maintenance income from the other party if he or she was financially dependent on the spouse during the marriage.
Non-Parental Custody / Third Party Custody
The legal process where a party who is not a parent takes custody of a minor child/children.
A third party (who may be related or may not be related to the child) the child lives with under court order.
The parent with whom the child is not spending the night.
A child-centered plan that sets out parenting time and decision-making authority for each parent.
The parent with whom the child is currently spending the night.
A child-centered plan that sets out parenting time for each parent (or non-parent custodian). The Residential Schedule does NOT include a court order about decision-making authority.