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Non-Parental (Third Party) Custody; Grandparents Rights

Non-parental custody actions are brought when third parties (people other than the actual parents) seek custody of minor children where either both parents are unfit, or where the children have been voluntarily placed with a third party by the parents.

Before a non-parental custody case can proceed, a party seeking nonparental custody is required to establish "adequate cause" for the petition. This is often referred to as a "threshold requirement". On January 19, 2017, the Washington State Supreme Court set forth that before a trial on the merits of a non-parental custody petition, a litigant must satisfy the threshold requirement of "adequate cause" by showing that the biological parent is either unfit or that placing the child in the parent's custody would result in actual detriment to the growth and development. If the court finds that there is not adequate cause to proceed with the case, the case will be dismissed. If the court finds that there is adequate cause, temporary orders may be entered, a parenting investigation may occur and the case will proceed to trial if it is not resolved by way of settlement.

Non-parental custody cases are usually an emergent action for children in danger. Often in the case of grandparents, a difficult practical and emotional balance must be struck. Grandparents do not want to act as "parents" again, but feel that they have to step in to help their grandchildren. If this is the situation, it is important to know that there is a statute that permits you to save your grandchildren. Since there is an adequate cause/threshold requirement that must be met in order for the litigation to proceed forward, it is very important to prepare the case thoroughly before filing a petition for non-parental custody.

Family law litigation, including non-parental custody actions, can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of non-parental custody actions and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your divorce.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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