Washington's New Grandparent and Relative Visitation Right Law

Up until recently the right of other individuals to establish visitation rights with a minor child has been very limited in Washington. However, effective June 7, 2018, Washington has a new law (Chapter 26.11 Revised Code Of Washington) that allows for grandparents and other relatives by blood or marriage (including step-family members) the potential chance to gain visitation rights with a child who is not their own biological child. The non-parent must prove they have a strong relationship with the child and that the child will suffer harm if visitation is not granted.

The law allows several other types of people to request visitation rights, including people related by blood or marriage. These include:

Any blood or half-blood family members, such as first and second cousins, nephews, nieces, and great and great-great grandparents;

Step-family members may request visitation rights, including stepfathers, stepmothers, stepbrothers, stepsisters;

Family members of an adopted child;

A spouse or family member of any person allowed by the law to request visitation;

If the child is a Native American tribal member, any person defined by the tribe as an extended family member

A person who wants to request visitation may only do so only one time. If the request is denied by the court, the person may not ask again. Essentially, One and Done. Because the non-parent only gets one chance to ask for visitation rights, and because the legal standard is very high, it is important to seek legal advice before filing a petition.

The lawyers at Morse Bratt Andrews & Terry, LLP can help you navigate this new area of the law. Feel free to contact us