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Grandparents' Rights (Nonparental Custody)

Protecting “Grandparents’ Rights” And Petitioning For Minor Guardianship

Grandparents do not have any inherent legal right to visitation with, or guardianship of, their grandchildren if the biological parents are capable of providing adequate care. However, grandparents and other relatives can petition for minor guardianship under certain circumstances when it is in the child’s best interests.

If you have been cut off from your grandchildren or if you are requesting minor guardianship to rescue a child from abuse or neglect, Clement Law Center can assess your situation and represent you if you need to institute legal proceedings to protect the children. We practice in the Seattle-Tacoma area and have handled grandparent and nonparent minor guardianship cases throughout the state of Washington. Contact us today for a consultation.

Minor Guardianship: What To Know

Guardianship refers to a legal arrangement in which one person has the right to make decisions for and care for another person. In minor guardianships, the court appoints an adult as the guardian of a minor child under the age of 18. Minor guardianships are rare; for the court to appoint a minor guardianship, it must find evidence that the child’s parents can no longer care for them safely. Common reasons for minor guardianships include:

  • Drug addiction
  • Severe mental illness
  • Domestic abuse
  • Incarceration
  • Abandonment

Emergency minor guardianships, which last 60 to 120 days, are for short-term situations or until the court can appoint a regular minor guardianship. A regular minor guardianship may last until the child turns 18.

“Grandparents’ Rights” To Minor Guardianship

A Washington state case led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on grandparents’ rights. This federal case overturned a state statute that authorized courts to order visitation for grandparents. The U.S. Supreme Court reasoned that the state law was so invasive to the rights of custodial parents that it amounted to a violation of their constitutional rights.

Many grandparents, discouraged by this case, have wrongly concluded that they are powerless to help their grandchildren when the biological parents are unable to properly care for their children due to drugs, alcohol or emotional illness. These grandparents are often the only hope their grandkids have for stable guardians. The grandparents in these situations should not give up.

  • These disputes often arise with divorced or unmarried parents. Grandparents will often have access to the grandchildren during their own son or daughter’s residential time.
  • Grandparents whose adult child is called to military duty may be able to obtain designation by court order to exercise visitation rights with their grandchild.
  • Grandparents can also petition for minor guardianship on their own when the biological parents are simply unable or unwilling to provide appropriate care for the children.

You Can Depend On Us For Nonparental Minor Guardianship Issues

In certain circumstances, a court may grant minor guardianship to grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings or other interested parties. To petition for minor guardianship, you must assert that both parents have abandoned the child or are unfit because of abuse, neglect, addictions or mental illness. Clement Law Center has successfully sued for minor guardianship on behalf of grandparents and others, usually when they have already been sheltering and providing for the child. Obtaining formal minor guardianship allows the grandparents or relatives to act on the child’s behalf regarding education, health care and other official matters.

Bruce Clement has experience representing grandparents in cases involving military custody as well as interstate/international custody matters.

Contact A Seasoned Minor Guardianship Lawyer Today

Contact Clement Law Center to arrange an initial consultation. Call 253-357-5395 or email us. We serve the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, Pierce County and King County from three convenient locations in Federal Way, Bellevue and Seattle.