Non-Parent Custody

Not all parents are fit to take care of their children. Sometimes a parent is unfit for a short period of time and sometimes the problems are expected to last for a long time. If a parent abandons, neglects, or abuses a child, then it might be in the child's best interest to live with a third party. In some cases, Child Protective Services (CPS) may have filed reports and/or the courts may already be involved with the children through dependency court actions. When the parents are unfit, living with either of the parents might cause the children to suffer actual detriment or harm to their growth and development.

When a parent is not the right person to take care of a child, a third party must step in. Non-parent custody cases often involve a grandparent, step-parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or adult sibling. In some cases, the person asking for custody is not even related to the child by blood or marriage but has cared for the child in the past.

Non-parent custody cases in Washington are particularly complex. In these types of cases, it helps to have an experienced family law attorney in Seattle, WA, who can help you during every step in the process.


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Attorney for a Non-Parent Custody Cases in Seattle, WA

The attorneys in Seattle, WA, at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson help clients file a case in superior court to ask for temporary or full custody of a child when they are not the parent. We can help you explain to the court why the children should not live with their parents and why it is in the best interest of the children to remain in your care.

We have helped non-parents obtain custody of children including grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and cousins. For any case in Seattle or Kent in King County, WA, we can help.

Call (206) 712-2756 today to schedule a consultation.


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Non-Parental Custody Information Center


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Washington's Residential Schedule using form FL Non-Parent 405

Our attorneys can help you prepare a proposed Residential Schedule using form FL Non-Parent 405. The residential schedule includes the reason that the visitation of one or both parents should be limited or prohibited.

The petition must also list other people with a legal right to spend time with the child. In the petition, you must list the name of the children's parents, guardian or custodian. Finally, the petition must list other court cases involving the child including other family law, criminal, protection order, juvenile, and dependency cases.


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Reasons to Award Custody to a Third Party

In some cases, it might be appropriate for the court to give no visitation to either parent for the following types of reasons:

      1. Abandonment;
      2. Neglect;
      3. Physical or emotional child abuse by the parent;
      4. Sexual abuse by the parent;
      5. Child abuse by someone living in the parent’s home;
      6. Domestic Violence by the parent or someone living in the parent's home; or
      7. Assault by the parent or someone living the parent's home including which caused grievous physical harm or fear of such harm.

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The Process for a Non-Parent to Request Custody of a Child

After the petition is filed, the court can issue a Temporary Non-Parent Custody Order that can give the non-parent certain rights and/or protections after your case has been filed but before a final decision is made. The temporary order can address temporary visitation, temporary custody, temporary child support, and restraining orders.

We also help a third party obtain financial support for a child in their care by filing the following documents with the court:

      • Child Support Worksheets;
      • Financial Declarations;
      • Sealed Financial Records Cover Sheet;
      • Child Support Orders, and
      • Proposed Temporary or Final Residential Schedules.

The petition asks the court for custody of children who can be found or permanently reside in the county and state where this petition is filed. If the children live in King County, WA, then the petition for third party custody must be filed in King County, WA.


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Request for Child Support from the Parents

In these cases, the children have a right to child support (including medical support) from the legal parents according to state law even if the parents are not allowed to exercise any visitation with the children. The court can order the parents to pay child support according to the Child Support Schedule Worksheets.

The court can also order the parents to support the children by providing and keeping health insurance for the children, paying the children’s daycare, paying uninsured medical, or paying other expenses.

If a non-parent is awarded temporary or permanent custody of the children, that non-parent can often claim the children as dependents for tax purposes.


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Jurisdiction to Determine Child Support in Washington

Before the court can order a parent to pay support, the court must have personal jurisdiction over the parent. Personal jurisdiction over the parent ordered to pay support can arise when the parent did any the following:

      • was personally served in Washington with the summons and petition;
      • lives in Washington now;
      • lived in Washington with the children;
      • lived in Washington and paid for pregnancy costs or support for the children;
      • did or said something that caused the children to live in this state;
      • had sex in Washington which may have produced the children;
      • signed an agreement to join this Petition or other document agreeing that the court can decide his or her rights in this case.

If one of those conditions applies, then the Washington state court will have personal jurisdiction and authority to make decisions about the parent including ordering the parent to pay child support.

When the child is a member of an Indian tribe or the biological child of an Indian tribe member and eligible for membership, then federal and state Indian Child Welfare Acts will apply to the case. In those cases, the Indian Child Welfare Act Notice found in form FL Non-Parent 402 must be attached to the Petition and served on the Indian tribe or other necessary people or agencies.


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Additional Resources

Residential Schedule using form FL Non-Parent 405 - Visit Washington LawHelp to find the forms necessary when filing a non-parent custody case. Find instructions on how to complete the forms, which are authored by the Northwest Justice Project. The forms in the packet are used to file a case in superior court to ask for custody of a child when you are not a parent.

This article was last updated on Friday, October 27, 2017.

 

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