Non-Parental Custody Action Lawyer in Spokane
Do You Need Help Asserting Your Non-Parental Rights?
Any third-party adult can technically petition for non-parental custody. Currently a non-parent must submit a petition for non-parental custody and an affidavit alleging that the child is not in the physical custody of one of its biological parents or that neither parent is a suitable custodian. Because the Constitution affords biological parents the right to the care and custody of their children, the Petitioner in a non-parental custody action has a heightened burden of proof. In order for the non-parent to proceed, adequate cause must be established at a hearing for adequate cause. To establish adequate cause, the non-parent must show by a high standard of proof that the biological parents are either unfit or that actual detriment to the child’s growth and development would occur if custody is restored to either biological parent. If the non-parent fails to prevail at the adequate cause stage, the petition for non-parental custody will be dismissed. If the non-parent prevails at the adequate cause stage, the matter will be set for trial; at which the trial court will determine, based upon the testimony and evidence presented, whether the non-parents have met their burden of proof, and either grant the non-parental custody petition and order a final parenting plan, or deny the petition with the child returning to the biological parents.
De facto Parentage Actions
Until recently, child custody actions have always been reserved for biological or adoptive parents.With the traditional family structure changing, however, family courts have found that limiting standing to petition for legal parental rights to biological parents only was not in the child’s best interests if certain factors could be met. In 2004, a Washington Court held that a non-biological mother in a same sex relationship had common law claim of de facto parentage in this state. As a result, the state of Washington has established “de facto” parentage for non-biological parents who have acted as parents in all of the established parental ways and have created a parental relationship and bond with a child. Unlike non-parental custody—which only confers the temporary right to determine a child’s upbringing—a de facto parent has legal standing equal to a child’s biological or adoptive parent with all of the same rights and responsibilities. On January 1, 2019, RCW 26.26A.440 established by statute what a petitioner seeking de facto parentage status must prove. By a preponderance of the evidence, the Petitioner must prove that: (1) The individual resided with the child as a regular member of the child’s household for a significant period; (2) The individual engaged in consistent caretaking of the child; (3) The individual undertook full and permanent responsibilities of a parent of the child without expectation of financial compensation; (4) The individual held out the child as the individual’s child; (5) The individual established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child which is parental in nature; (6) Another parent of the child fostered or supported the bonded and dependent relationship required under (e) of this subsection; and (7) Continuing the relationship between the individual and the child is in the best interest of the child. Those who may be able to make a valid parental claim in this way include individuals in a same-sex relationship, stepparents, grandparents, non-biological “fathers,” or other extended family, such as aunts and uncles. I have successfully obtained de facto parentage status for six clients since 2004. Please contact my firm, Ellen M. Hendrick, PLLC, to discuss your case and for assistance in moving forward with your claim. My family law firm can discuss your case to determine if you have a valid claim. No case is too complex for my firm to handle. We are backed by over 16 years of experience taking on high-conflict, high-asset cases and are prepared to fight for you.
If you believe you have a valid claim, I can evaluate your case as a Spokane non-parental custody action attorney. Call (509) 402-2248.
“Ellen is a fighter and I feel extremely grateful for her invaluable representation.”- Patrick R.
“She is fair and provides outstanding and rationale advice.”- Former Client
“If you are looking for a hard-working never quit trying the type of lawyer that will give you 100% all the time then go with Ellen ...”- Chris and Vicki