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What does it mean to be a guardian in Washington?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2021 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

Washington parents have the option to name a legal guardian for their children as an estate planning tool. Naming a legal guardian in their will allows parents to dictate who raises and takes care of their children should something happen to them.

Legal guardianship is normally assigned in a family court while the parents are alive or shortly after their death. Having a standby guardian while the parents are alive can ensure a smooth transition should something happen to the parents.

What happens when you appoint a legal guardian?

Parents have the option to legally appoint a standby guardian for their children while they’re still living. This doesn’t normally terminate the parents’ rights, but the legal guardians will be able to have custody of the children and make decisions as to how the children are raised.

Can a person be granted third-party guardianship?

Parents can choose to give guardianship to a third party while they are still living if they want that guardian to have approximately equal rights to parent the child. This is something that can be explored by polyamorous couples or for parents who are looking for additional support while they have to be absent.

An example of third-party guardianship in practice is when a parent or parents have to travel for work and must leave their child in the care of a grandparent. In this case, the grandparent would become a legal guardian either permanently or temporarily.

Appointing a legal guardian for children while the parents are still alive can be a daunting task with complicated hoops to jump through. In all situations, it must be in the best interests of the child for the guardianship to be appointed, and all parents and guardians should be on the same page to avoid disputes later.