When adult children divorce, grandparents often have concerns about their relationship with their grandchildren. In some cases, people in this situation may wish to seek legal grandchild visitation.
Review the factors that influence grandparent visitation orders in Washington state.
Seeking nonparent visitation
With a Washington law that took effect in 2018, any blood relative, stepparent or stepsibling can ask the court for legal visitation with a child. The grandparent or family member must file a petition that includes statements from others who agree that the child would benefit from grandparent visitation. In some cases, the court may schedule a hearing at which you can present further evidence.
Understanding visitation standards
The grandparent asking for grandchild visitation must show that the loss of the relationship would harm the child’s well-being. If the child’s parent disagrees with the request for visitation, the court presumes that he or she knows what is best for the child and can make this decision.
Generally, the grandparent must show the court that he or she has had a positive, consistent relationship with the child for at least two years, or half the child’s life for a very young child. The court will also review the grandparent’s relationship with the child’s parents, the reason for seeking legal visitation, the parents’ custody arrangement with one another if applicable, and whether the grandparent has any history of domestic violence or neglect.
In certain cases, grandparents may seek legal custody of grandchildren. Generally, the court will only honor this request if the parents are unable to provide the child with a safe and stable environment.