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Grandparents play a role in the developing lives of their grandchildren

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

Studies have shown that children benefit significantly from solid relationships with their grandparents. Many grandparents wish to maintain these relationships even if the parents are no longer together. In Washington State, grandparents have rights to visitation and third-party custody of their grandchildren.

What are grandparents’ visitation rights?

In Washington State, grandparents have the right to petition for visitation with their grandchildren. The court will consider the child’s best interests when deciding on visitation. Factors that may be considered include:

  • The child’s relationship with the petitioner and parents
  • The child’s living situation
  • Any potential harm to the child from visits with the grandparent
  • The wishes of the child (if the child is old enough)
  • The amount of time the grandparent has been away from the child

If you are a grandparent wanting visitation with your grandchild, you should know that grandparents’ visitation rights and third-party custody are topics of family law.

What is third-party custody?

When grandparents or other third parties seek custody of a child in Washington State, they must file what is known as third-party custody petition. For the court to grant a third-party custody petition, the petitioner must demonstrate that they have a compelling reason why granting custody is best for the child. The court will consider many factors when granting a third-party custody petition.

Third-party custody orders are not always easy to obtain, and grandparents must show that they can provide a stable and loving home for the child. They will also need to prove that the child’s parents are genuinely unable or unwilling to care for the child.

In addition to the circumstances described above, a court may also grant grandparents visitation rights if it finds that:

  • The child’s parents are deceased or divorced
  • The child has been adopted by a stepparent or other third party
  • The child has been placed in foster care

A complex issue of custody and visitation

Grandparents’ visitation rights and third-party custody in Washington State can be complicated. It is essential to know the laws in place and any special circumstances that may come into play when deciding on custodial arrangements.