26.09.184. Permanent parenting plan
(1) OBJECTIVES. The objectives of the permanent parenting plan are to:
(a) Provide for the child’s physical care;
(b) Maintain the child’s emotional stability;
(c) Provide for the child’s changing needs as the child grows and matures, in a way that minimizes the need for future modifications to the permanent parenting plan;
(d) Set forth the authority and responsibilities of each parent with respect to the child, consistent with the criteria in RCW 26.09.187 and 26.09.191;
(e) Minimize the child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict;
(f) Encourage the parents, where appropriate under RCW 26.09.187 and 26.09.191, to meet their responsibilities to their minor children through agreements in the permanent parenting plan, rather than by relying on judicial intervention; and
(g) To otherwise protect the best interests of the child consistent with RCW 26.09.002.
(2) CONTENTS OF THE PERMANENT PARENTING PLAN. The permanent parenting plan shall contain provisions for resolution of future disputes between the parents, allocation of decision-making authority, and residential provisions for the child.
(3) CONSIDERATION IN ESTABLISHING THE PERMANENT PARENTING PLAN. In establishing a permanent parenting plan, the court may consider the cultural heritage and religious beliefs of a child.
(4) DISPUTE RESOLUTION. A process for resolving disputes, other than court action, shall be provided unless precluded or limited by RCW 26.09.187 or 26.09.191. A dispute resolution process may include counseling, mediation, or arbitration by a specified individual or agency, or court action. In the dispute resolution process:
(a) Preference shall be given to carrying out the parenting plan;
(b) The parents shall use the designated process to resolve disputes relating to implementation of the plan, except those related to financial support, unless an emergency exists;
(c) A written record shall be prepared of any agreement reached in counseling or mediation and of each arbitration award and shall be provided to each party;
(d) If the court finds that a parent has used or frustrated the dispute resolution process without good reason, the court shall award attorneys’ fees and financial sanctions to the prevailing parent;
(e) The parties have the right of review from the dispute resolution process to the superior court; and
(f) The provisions of (a) through (e) of this subsection shall be set forth in the decree.
(5) ALLOCATION OF DECISION-MAKING AUTHORITY.
(a) The plan shall allocate decision-making authority to one or both parties regarding the children’s education, health care, and religious upbringing. The parties may incorporate an agreement related to the care and growth of the child in these specified areas, or in other areas, into their plan, consistent with the criteria in RCW 26.09.187 and 26.09.191. Regardless of the allocation of decision-making in the parenting plan, either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of the child.
(b) Each parent may make decisions regarding the day-to-day care and control of the child while the child is residing with that parent.
(c) When mutual decision making is designated but cannot be achieved, the parties shall make a good-faith effort to resolve the issue through the dispute resolution process.
(6) RESIDENTIAL PROVISIONS FOR THE CHILD. The plan shall include a residential schedule which designates in which parent’s home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provision for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions, consistent with the criteria in RCW 26.09.187 and 26.09.191.
(7) PARENTS’ OBLIGATION UNAFFECTED. If a parent fails to comply with a provision of a parenting plan or a child support order, the other parent’s obligations under the parenting plan or the child support order are not affected. Failure to comply with a provision in a parenting plan or a child support order may result in a finding of contempt of court, under RCW 26.09.160.
(8) PROVISIONS TO BE SET FORTH IN PERMANENT PARENTING PLAN. The permanent parenting plan shall set forth the provisions of subsections (4)(a) through (c), (5)(b) and (c), and (7) of this section.