Child custody laws are often under scrutiny, evolving and varying from state to state. The best interests of the children involved are a top priority, and when an incident occurs that proves to be negative for the children, it may prompt a change in legislature. A change in Washington state child custody law is currently under consideration and is having an effect in a nearby state as well.
A situation occurred in Washington when a man was a person of interest in a murder investigation of his wife. The man was never formally named a suspect in the investigation and still had custodial rights of his children, though the two sons' maternal grandparents were fighting for custody. The children were not fully removed from their father's custody, and during one of his visits, the man murdered his two sons and killed himself. The current legislation change being considered would have children removed from the custody of parents suspected of murdering their spouses.
The legislation change was used as an example in another state facing a similar situation. A man was named a suspect in the murder of his wife but not until a year and a half had passed since authorities found her body, and during which time his youngest children remained in his custody. The man's oldest son reported being afraid of his father and feared for his younger siblings. The son hopes that his home state will follow the state of Washington's example and continue working toward a change in custody laws.
The safety and well-being of children involved in custody disputes should always be the main focus. Even if the situations are not as extreme as a parent being suspected of murder, child custody battles can be drawn out and stressful for all parties involved. Staying informed on changing custody laws in Washington can help parents be knowledgeable on the subject should they find themselves in a child custody dispute.