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.