In Washington State we do not generally discuss parenting in terms of “custody”. Normally in this state, the parents share custody of the children; i.e. both parents continue to be involved in raising the children.
One parent might have the children more of the time (often referred to as the “primary residential parent”), or have some sole decision making powers (sometimes ordered in cases with a history of abusive behaviors or an inability to cooperate), but this is not the same as having sole custody.
In my experience, the courts tend to feel that removing contact with one parent is harmful to a child, so they generally try for the least restrictive contact that still protects the child. This might mean that an abusive parent might still be allowed to see the children in the presence of a visitation supervision, or even at a secure facility specifically set up to supervise high risk visitations.
However, while an abusive parent might still have some involvement with a child, a court certainly may find that it is not in the child’s best interest to have the child live even part time in the home of that parent, or for that parent to be involved in decision making with regard to the child. Every case is different, so the solutions that are ordered vary from case to case. The primary goal is to allow the child to know both parents, while protecting the child from harm by either parent.
If you believe that your children need to be protected from an abusive parent, give us a call to set up an appointment to talk with one of our divorce attorneys here at Seattle Divorce Services.