Non Parental Custody
Under Washington State family law, a select few individuals may file an action seeking non-parental custody or visitation with a child. Typically, these matters involve family members, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles, who are seeking to obtain custody of a child. Because these matters involve significant emotional challenges to the children, as well as family relationships, particular care must be taken in addressing these matters.
Typically grandparents, or any other significant third party, are not eligible to ask for visitation with a child who is not their own. Washington State Supreme Court held that a parent had a fundamental constitutional right to parent. Troxel v. Granville. However under a narrow exception defined as defacto parentage, a third party may obtain visitation with a child if the third party has been acting as the child’s parent (defacto parent) with the permission and encouragement of the child’s parent.
In some cases, the child’s best interest may require placing the child in the custody of a third party, such as a grandparent, or another family member. It is important to discuss this process with a competent attorney before making a choice to pursue custody. Ms. Murphy can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case, as well as other options which may be available.
Laura Murphy has been representing parties in non parental custody matters for a number of years. As a result, she understands the significance of relationships to a child. While Ms. Murphy has a full grasp of the law, she is equally adept at working collaboratively with parties to reach an amicable resolution and is familiar with the local family service providers. Guardian ad Litems, counselors and psychiatrists all play a vital role in non-parental matters. Family reconciliation efforts and maintaining the family dynamic is extremely important in non parental custody cases where ongoing relationships between the parties will be required.