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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11364
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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We have been raising our 2 grandchildren for the last 7

Customer Question

We have been raising our 2 grandchildren for the last 7 years. Their mother drops in and out of their lives- she is a meth head. We are interested in non custodial parents status. Can we have the mother just sign the forms etc if she will and not involve an attorney? If the mother is not willing to agree what is the procedure in Spokane Wa county?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  NYFamilyLawyer replied 1 month ago.

Hello and thanks for using Just Answer. I’m a licensed attorney with 36 years’ experience in family law appeals and landlord-tenant law. I look forward to helping you today.

At the end of this session, I will ask you to please rate me as that’s the only way I get credit for helping you. It is NO EXTRA CHARGE to you but it’s important to me! Thanks!

Please note:This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an attorney on this site. This is for educational purposes only and you are advised to seek your own legal counsel. The attorney herein is licensed in NY only.

Also – I will be typing my answer for you so I’ll be back asap.

Can you tell me where the father is in this picture? Is that your son? Will both parents sign a form?

Expert:  NYFamilyLawyer replied 1 month ago.

The first method for getting non-parent custody of a child involves applying for guardianship. However, consent guardianship is not possible if one parent does not agree to give consent. I don't know if both parents will agree here, because I don't know the situation with the father, unless he's your son and will cooperate, but either way, both parents must sign for this. Otherwise, this can't happen. The bot***** *****ne for this is yes, you can have the mother sign forms but the father has to sign too.

If the mother (or father) is not willing to agree, you can file for "in loco parentis" custody. "In loco parentis" means "in place of the parents" or "instead of the parents." In this case, non-parents file with the court where the child currently or permanently resides. The non-parental filing will need to detail the cause for the petition, and will involve a formal notification to the child's parents, guardians, and various other interested parties.

To gain non-parent custody, the non-parent(s) must generally be able to show the following:

  1. That they have a long-standing relationship with the child, and are fully capable of substituting for the parents in caring for the child.
  2. That it is not only not in the child's best interests but also to his detriment to be left with parents who wish to retain custody.
  3. That the court with jurisdiction in the matter has not made a custody determination within one year of the filing, with the exception of cases when the child's physical, emotional, moral, or mental health is in jeopardy.
  4. That one of the following criteria applies: a) One of the child's legal parents is deceased; or b) the child's parents are not married at the time of the filing, or c) the child's parents are legally separated or are divorcing at the time of the filing.

Courts take the rights of biological parents seriously, and the non-parents filing for custody must convincingly prove that it is in the child's best interests to be removed from the care of their biological parents to be placed with the non-parent. These stringent rules apply not only to custody battles, but also to non-parental visitation rights.

The key here is that it is not in the best interests of the children to be with either their mother or father. That's what you will have to show the court. Washington State law has been in a state of flux with grandparents' rights because the biggest case in the country dealing with grandparents' rights came from Washington state, went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and every lawyer who deals with grandparents rights knows this case. The Wash. grandparent statute was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court so the new statutes in Washington are different than they were ten years ago.

You should be able to get non-parent in loco parentis for your grandchildren or some form of guardianship from the court pretty easily. They have been living with you for the last 7 years, and as long as it's in their best interests, this relationship could be legalized. I don't know how old the kids are but if they're young, they're not going to have much of a say about where they want to be. If you've been raising them, both of you have been like parents to the kids. That's what they know and the court will understand that and probably agree that that's in their best interests.

Expert:  NYFamilyLawyer replied 1 month ago.

If you have to file in court, your best bet is to get a lawyer. I can give you names of lawyers in the Spokane area unless there is some other city where I should be looking in. We can't refer to specific lawyers, but I am allowed to give you names of family lawyers in your area and then I have an easy to follow, short guide which explains how to pick a lawyer. It includes asking for a free consultation.

You could probably do this yourself but it's not so easy because people have to be served with the forms properly, and the forms have to filled out properly. That's why I would recommend a lawyer if you have to go to court. Grandparent guardianship or in loco parentis or any other form of "custody" is not always easy, especially if either parent objects. Then it will be a little more difficult but you will show that the kids have been with you for the last 7 years and it's in their best interests to stay with you because......and fill in the blanks -- about mom, about dad, etc.

If if you have been raising the children and are acting as substitute parents or you have some other reason why it would be detrimental to the children if you weren't to be granted non-parent custody or in loco parentis, then the court would likely go along with your petition. In many cases, grandparent petitions are not usually granted, but in your case, with the kids living with you for 7 years and mom is a meth head, you have a better chance. I don't know what the situation is with the father, if he is in the picture or not, but he will have to be served. If you don't know where he is, an attorney will be able to find him for you.

I'm happy to help you find lawyers in your area (Spokane?)

Let me know if you need any more information.

Does this help you and answer your question?

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