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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12331
Experience:  Attorney experienced in all aspects of family law
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My daughter and her husband have been separated for several

Customer Question

My daughter and her husband have been separated for several years now, he had custody, but relinquished them (ages 12, 10, and 8) to his half (at that time 18 yr old) sister. They are in Washington State, well my daughter still is (unfortunately ended up with wrong crowd and into substance abuse), but the husband has fled the state due to having outstanding warrants, which is why he gave physical custody (nothing legal). I had hoped my daughter would get her life in line and get her kids back, but to no avail. Each time (which I am going up there (I live in Oklahoma) next week) I or my other daughter wants to see them the 1/2 sister conveniently has something else planned. The 1/2 sister is an unwed mother of 2 others with a live-in boyfriend. I am willing to receive these children and raise them. If possible, I would pay for my daughter's divorce and have it stated in the divorce decree that I would retain custody, or I am willing to fight for custody. I am looking for suggestions on how and what I can do to make this happen.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 5 years ago.
Hello there:

I'm guessing that the father would not object to you as the children's custodian. Is that correct?

Tell me about your relationship with the children. How often you see them, your history with them, etc.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

If he could be found, I would assume no....due to my geographic distance from them, I have not seen them in 3 years. I was up there 2 years ago and tried to see them, but they were not available. My other daughter which lives within 3 hours from them has tried many times and mostly denied access.


When I did get to see them, they loved being with me.

Expert:  Brandon M. replied 5 years ago.
What do we know about the relationship between the half sister and the kids?

What do we know about her living situation, other than the live-in boyfriend?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It seems its the only stable life they have known for the past couple years. My daughter lives in the same area but only sees them occasionally. Having 5 children (one a newborn) in the house. We have commended her for doing this, but keeping them away from blood family is not what I had in mind. There are rumors of drug usage, but can't confirm any of it due to nobody really knows what their quality of life is. I feel like I have been on the sideline long enough hoping my daughter gets her life back on track, but I feel she isnt achieving this, and feel it is time to step in and ensure my grandkids are properly taken care of.
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 5 years ago.
how long have the kids been in their half-aunt's care?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
about 2 years now
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 5 years ago.
There are several legal obstacles for your situation. To start, grandparents may be given visitation rights to a grandchild RCW 26.09.240. That code section reads, in part, that:

Visitation with a grandparent shall be presumed to be in the child's best interests when a significant relationship has been shown to exist. This presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of evidence showing that visitation would endanger the child's physical, mental, or emotional health.

"Significant relationship" is not defined, but where you live 1,000 miles away and have not seen the children for two years, it is not going to be an easy argument in most cases. I'm not discouraging you from making the attempt; in fact, I encourage it--I would just encourage you to use a Washington state attorney to help you present your case to the court.

For a non-parent, the other option is a guardianship. A guardianship effectively assigns the custodial rights to a non-parent and may be awarded when a minor child's biological parents are either unwilling or unable to provide for the physiological, emotional, and developmental needs of the child. From the court's perspective, the evidentiary obstacle is that the kids have been in the aunt's care for two years; the aunt would typically be the better candidate unless there is a demonstrated deficiency. I am not saying it can't be demonstrated because I only know what you tell me, but you are going to need something more than rumors and that would likely mean using a private investigator.

I understand that you may have follow-up questions. Let me know if further clarification is needed. Thank you.