It is important for children to have positive adult figures in their lives. Many grandparents fill this role within the lives of their grandchildren.
However, there are some unfortunate situations where a child's parents will not allow the grandparents to visit. Within the state of Washington, a new law went into place last year that may aid grandparents in seeking rights to be a part of their grandchildren's lives.
Last year, the Senate passed a bill that details important aspects for those seeking visitation rights for a child. Not only does it denote who may seek visitation, but it also clarifies the process for doing so through the court. It also states where the applicant must apply for said rights. It is important to fully understand the law and its requirements because a party is only allowed to apply for visitation rights one time under this law.
There are a few steps that parties must take to successfully obtain visitation rights. The first and most important aspect is showing the party has a right to request visitation. To do so, the party must fit into one of the following categories:
- A blood relative
- Step-family or adoptive family members
- A spouse of an allowed party
- A member of a Native American tribe (for a Native American child)
Once the individual establishes her or his allowed status, that individual must also show that his or her relationship with the child has been in place for over two years and that it is in the best interest of the child for visitation to occur. The individual may also argue that such visitation would reduce the risk of harm to the child. Parties who can successfully argue these aspects may receive visitation rights with the full backing of the court.
Though the process may not be simple, understanding the possible rights as a grandparent can aid parties in their endeavors. They should consider what actions are necessary for their particular situations, and above all else, keep the needs of the grandchild first in mind.