Losing access to a grandchild can have a negative impact on both the grandparent and the child. Unfortunately, this is often the case when parents choose to divorce. If you are struggling to maintain a meaningful role in your grandchild’s life, it is vitally important to learn and understand your rights under Washington state law. Speak to a dedicated and knowledgeable family law attorney at Twyford Law Office today during a free initial consultation by calling (509) 327-0777 or contacting us online.
Why Twyford Law Office is the Right Choice for You
Our more than 40 years of combined experience allows us to provide you with trusted professional legal services for any family law matter you are facing.
We understand how close to your heart and important issues related to grandparents’ rights might be, and we will get you the results you deserve.
No decision will be made without taking your thoughts and concerns into consideration.
Why You Need a Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
Although a grandparent often plays a critical role in a child’s life, when it comes to custody or visitation, it can be difficult for them to obtain the same rights a parent might have. In order to prove a child would be in better hands while under the custody of a grandparent rather than a parent, it tends to be a long and complicated process in court. While possibly going up against one or both parents, a grandparent will have the burden of proving that gaining visitation or custody rights is in the best interest of their grandchild.
Clearly, this type of case can easily turn into an emotional and stressful situation, with negotiations or a trial that can drag on for a lengthy period of time. Hiring a trustworthy lawyer who is experienced in cases involving grandparents’ rights will be crucial in demonstrating to a family law judge that your grandchildren will suffer if you are not allowed to visit or obtain custody of them.
Grandparents’ Rights in Washington
In the state of Washington, the courts are mandated to operate under the presumption that it is within a child’s best interests to leave decision-making to the parents, even when that means visitation with their grandparents is denied.
In 2000, several cases brought about the revision by the state to its statutory third-party visitation provisions, on the basis that it was unconstitutional and infringed on parental rights. However, under Washington’s newer relative visitation laws founds in RCW 26.11, grandparents have the right to seek visitation and a judge may grant it, if:
They are a relative of the child.
There is a substantial and ongoing relationship between the child and third party.
Proof can be shown that the child will likely suffer harm if visitation is denied.
The third party can show that it is in the best interest of the child to allow visitation.
According to the non-parental visitation laws, there are additional criteria that a relationship must meet in order to petition visitation. For example, a person who has, “established an ongoing and substantial relationship with a child” must have done so, “without expectation of financial compensation.” This means that a grandparent may be prohibited from seeking visitation rights if they accepted payment for babysitting their grandchildren. These restrictions and laws can be complex, which is why it is best to discuss them in detail with a grandparents’ rights lawyer and discover how they may impact your case.
A grandparent who is seeking custody of a grandchild must prove that the child is either not in the physical custody of a parent or that neither parent is fit to care for the child. The court will also take into account what is in the child’s best interest.
Call a Grandparents’ Rights Attorney Today
Discuss your rights as a grandparent and legal options for pursuing visitation or custody of your grandchild with a talented family law attorney in a free consultation. We are available online or by calling (509) 327-0777.