Clement Law Center - Federal Way Family Law Attorney
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Our office is open. At Clement Law Center, the safety and wellbeing of our clients and employees come first. In response to COVID-19, court hearings and all conferences with client and prospective clients will be by phone. We are not conducting in-person court hearings or meetings. Our staff will often be working remotely during this time. Our office will be checking voicemail and will return client calls as soon as possible. We continue to offer free phone consultations.
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Grandparents’ custody rights in Washington

When biological parents are capable of providing care for their children, grandparents typically do not have any inherent right for custody or visitation in the state of Washington.

Landmark state and federal court decisions give parents substantial Constitutional rights to provide care without interference from others. However, there are steps grandparents can take to protect children subjected to abuse or neglect.

When can custody rights be challenged?

Washington child custody laws are complicated, so grandparents should consult with an experienced family law attorney when petitioning for custody. To be successful, both biological parents generally must be deemed “unfit” due to:

  • Abandoning the child
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Child abuse or neglect

As in all custody matters, courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child.

“De facto” parent designations

A 2005 Washington state Supreme Court ruling created a category in which grandparents or nonbiological parents are, at times, designated “de facto” parents. To be successful, petitioners must have:

  • Resided with the child in the same household for a significant period
  • Provided consistent care for the child
  • Assumed parenting responsibilities without expecting financial compensation
  • Established a dependent and parental relationship with the child
  • The relationship fostered by another parent
  • Proof that the relationship is in the child’s best interests

No guarantees exist for a favorable ruling, and these criteria can be of little use for grandparents when seeking visitation rights.

Protecting the child

While custody and visitation can be an uphill battle for grandparents in Washington, courts have shown a willingness to grant these petitions when it’s for the child’s benefit. Working with a lawyer who understands the complex laws and court procedures is crucial to obtain a favorable outcome.

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Our Office Locations

Federal Way Office
31919 1st Avenue South, Suite 103
Federal Way, WA 98003

Toll Free:888-351-6779
Phone: 253-336-3607
Fax: 253-815-8458
Federal Way Office Location

Seattle Office
3418 NE 65th St., Suite A
Seattle, WA 98115

Toll Free: 888-351-6779
Phone: 253-336-3607
Fax: 253-815-8458
Seattle Office Location

Bellevue Office
14777 NE 40th Street, Suite 206
Bellevue, WA 98007

Toll Free: 888-351-6779
Phone: 253-336-3607
Fax: 253-815-8458
Bellevue Office Location
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