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Non-parental Custody

At times, it may be in the child’s best interest to live with a person other than his or her biological parent. For example, the biological parent may be abusive or unstable. In these cases, a person other than the parent may petition the court for non-parental custody.

 Non-parental custody grants the non-parent the right to make decisions regarding the residence, medical care, education, and other important matters.  Non-parental custody can be granted either temporarily or permanently.

 While a child may be loved and cared for by several adults, non-parental custody can only be granted in limited circumstances. It is important to consult an experienced Washington non-parental custody lawyer about your legal options and the appropriate steps to obtain custody of the child.

Washington Non-parental Custody Lawyer

Joyce Schwensen is a dedicated attorney who helps people who are raising their grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or other children who are not their own. She is a Washington non-parental custody lawyer who can help you with the law if your grandchild or other child is in need of a parent and you are able to fulfill that role. Call today at (206) 367-1065 to set up a free consultation.

Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen represents people aspiring to become parents across the state, including in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Vancouver.


Information on Non-parental Custody


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When Non-parental Custody Becomes Necessary

There are many circumstances when a non-parent seeks custody of the child. One of the most common is when a grandparent or other relative is raising a child because the child’s parents have health problems, are incarcerated, suffer from alcohol or drug abuse, or for other reasons.

While such arrangements usually begin as short-term, there may be a time when the child needs someone to act a legal parent to make certain decisions, and to provide stability for the longer term. The caretakers for the child may need to make important decisions, such as educational or medical decisions, that are limited by the fact that they have no legal rights to the child with them.

In these cases, seeking a non-parental custody decree from the court may be the best choice.


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What Must Be Established in a Nonparent Custody Case

Under Revised Code of Washington 26.10.030, the child cannot be currently living with his or her parents or in their physical custody if a person is to seek non-parental custody.

Washington State courts have ruled that, to obtain custody of a child, a person who is not the parent of a child must establish one of two facts:

  • That the parent or parents of the child are unfit; or
  • That placing the child with his or her parent would be detrimental to the child’s growth and development.

The parents and anyone with legal rights to the child, including legal guardians, must be named as parties. They have a right to respond; and may object.


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Temporary Non-parental Custody

In some circumstances, a person taking care of a child may seek temporary custody or emergency custody. For example a grandparent or relative may not be prepared to commit to a permanent decision, but knows the child needs immediate protection. The court may issue a temporary or emergency order.

In other circumstances, the parents may ask or agree to another person to have legal custody of a child. The person being asked may obtain a temporary parental consent agreement, with court approval. The court approved agreement allows the person to make certain legal decisions for the child. It can be reversed when the parent is ready to take the child back, unless the non-parental custodian is able at that time to prove that the parent is unfit.


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Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen | A Seattle Attorney for a Nonparental Custody Case

Joyce Schwensen is a former adoption agency executive director who has helped hundreds of children find loving homes. As an attorney, she can help you obtain legal custody of a child in your life who you are raising because the child’s parents are absent or unable to raise the child. Call Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today to set up a free consultation.

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