Grandparents Rights (and Relatives) in Washington State – Procedure
Grandparents and relatives now have the ability to petition the Court for visitation. Please click - Breaking News!!! Grandparents (and Relatives) Now Have Rights, for more information. The purpose of this article is to further detail the process for loving grandparents and relatives to seek visitation.
Proper Venue and Notice
Most requests brought by grandparents or relatives should be filed with the Court in the county that has exclusive original jurisdiction (i.e. Parenting Plan was previously entered in that county’s Court). In some cases, the proper venue may vary if parents or the children reside in a different county. Speaking with an attorney about the proper place to file may be beneficial. Notice is required and must be given to the all parents as well as anyone else who may have Court Ordered residential time.
After filing a Petition, the grandparent or relative requesting visitation must meet a threshold requirement. Based upon the Petition and supporting documents, the Court will make an initial determination. If the Court finds that it is more likely than not that visitation will be granted, then Court will hold a full hearing. If the Court finds the threshold has not been met, the case will be dismissed.
Burden of Proof
The grandparent or relative requesting visitation has a high burden of proof. They must show by clear and convincing evidence that all the requirements of the law are met. This is a higher burden than most other family law matters that require preponderance of evidence (more likely than not).
The new law has a significant limitation. The grandparent or relative only has one opportunity to ask for visitation. If that request is denied, the law does not permit an opportunity for a second such request. As a result, prior to filing a Petition, thorough preparation is crucial.
The grandparent or relative requesting visitation may be required to pay a parent’s attorney’s fees up front. If the Court finds the grandparent or relative filed a petition in bad faith, then they will be required to pay the parent’s attorney’s fees.
For any grandparent or relative who is considering a petition for visitation understanding the appropriate legal approach is essential. Finding an experienced attorney who understands the procedure and limitations may be beneficial.
Family law litigation 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 protect the best interests of children and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253)838–3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to talk about your situation
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