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Washington state relatives’ visitation and custody rights

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2022 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

Washington state law provides that grandparents have a right to visitation with their grandchildren under certain circumstances. This is known as the “grandparents’ visitation rights” statute.

Situations where grandparents may get visitation

Grandparents’ visitation rights and third-party custody statute in Washington provide that a grandparent may file a petition for visitation with their grandchild if they meet certain conditions. Specifically, the grandparent must show that:

  • An emotional bond exists between them and their grandchild
  • The visitation is in the best interests of the child
  • The visitation will not interfere with the parent-child relationship
  • One of several other conditions exist, such as when both parents have died or when one parent has acted to deny contact between the grandparent and grandchild

The court may grant visitation rights under these circumstances; however, they can only do so if there is no legal action pending between either parent and grandparent or any other person relating to custody or guardianship of the child. In addition, they cannot grant visitation if some other court barred the grandparent from accessing the residence of the children’s parents.

How to go about getting custody or visitation

The first step in petitioning for visitation or custody is to file a petition in the court of the county where either parent or the child resides. The petition must include information about the grandparent’s relationship with the child, details of any prior court orders regarding visitation or custody and an explanation as to why it is in the best interests of the child to grant visitation or custody.

After filing a petition, the court will give notice to all interested parties, including both parents and any other persons with legal rights over the child. The court will then schedule a hearing where all parties can present their arguments for and against granting visitation or custody rights. If they decide to grant visitation or custody rights, they will issue an order that outlines specific terms and conditions that all parties involved must respect and follow.