Third Party Custody
Attorney at Law, Bellevue, WA
When Experience Counts
In general, any actions where a non-parent (grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.) may seek custody of minor children. This is governed by RCW 26.10. Third parties may seek custody where (1) either both parents are unfit; (2) one parent is unfit and one parent is absent; (3) the child has been voluntarily placed with the third party by the parent. This also includes actions by de facto parents.
In seeking custody, there are a number of procedural hoops the petitioner must jump through. If this is you, call me. This is fact-dependent and the tactics you use when you start are critical to winning.
Under RCW 26.10, before you can proceed with a case, you must have an adequate cause hearing. The statute provides as follows:
1. "A party seeking a custody order shall submit, along with his or her motion, an affidavit declaring that the child is not in the physical custody of one of its parents or that neither parent is a suitable custodian and setting forth facts supporting the requested order. The party seeking custody shall give notice, along with a copy of the affidavit, to the other parties to the proceedings, who may file opposing affidavits."
2. "The court shall deny the motion unless it finds that adequate cause for hearing the motion is established by the affidavits, in which case it shall set a date for hearing on an order to show cause why the requested order should not be granted."
Because of the threshold requirement, potential custodians are well advised to collect all the evidence prior to starting the action. This means that before you spend money and emotional capital on starting a case; talk to me and go over the evidence. If the court denies adequate cause, you have lost; the case will be dismissed; and you will have wasted a lot of money. Call me.