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I live in Washington State. Son and Daughter-in-law divorcing.

I live in Washington State...
I live in Washington State. Son and Daughter-in-law divorcing. Until now, I have kept both of their children (my grandchildren) every day of their lives. NOW that she's mad at my son, she has cut our ENTIRE family off from the children. The divorce is bad enough for them, without yanking their entire family support system out from under them. Do I have substantial rights, as a paternal grandmother, in the state of Washington? We have not been allowed to talk to, mail or call the children at all and they have not been allowed to contact us, either. No restraining orders in play. Just mad mom. WHat can I do?
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Answered in 1 minute by:
9/1/2010
Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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Thank you for your question.

I will do my best to assist you with your issue. While I am permitted to provide you with legal information, I am prohibited by JustAnswer.com as well as various state bar associations from giving specific legal advice, provide representation, or enter into an attorney-client relationship through this open and non-confidential forum. Do you understand and agree to these provisions as well as JustAnswer.com's disclaimer?

Sincerely,


Dimitry Alexander Kaplun, Esq.

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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

Yes. I DO however expect reasonable answers to my questions for my money, according to Washington state law, please.

Thank you for your patience and for agreeing.

Absolutely, you will be satisfied with the information and the detail, or you are free to not "accept", or to request someone else to help you.

In terms of "grandparent rights", unfortunately your rights are limited. It so happens in 2000 that Washington's law granting the right to grandparents to visit the children over the consent of the parents was struck down. The Supreme Court, in a 6 -3 decision, upheld parental rights as superior to grandparent rights in a decision called Troxel v. Granville. The court specifically found the rights of the parents gave them the right to block and deny access to the children if they so chose to do. For your benefit I have included the decision and the article to the decision below.

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/news/aa060500d.htm

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-138.ZO.html

Because you do not have automatic rights, the mother is free to withhold. That does not mean that you cannot petition the courts yourself, but unless you can show that a significant link exists between you and the child (for example if the child lived constantly with you, or you were her legal guardian), and it would be in the best interest of the child to allow you access, it is unlikely to be granted. Even so this would be an uphill battle simply because parental rights are given such deference by the courts. Your son would have an easier time filing himself for custodial rights than you would.

I am sorry.

Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 9/1/2010 at 4:11 PM EST
Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

Thank you for your prompt response.

 

I am not seeking custody. I've had the girls in my childcare everyday since birth (age 6 and 2 years), they are very attached to us. OUr son lives in Dallas and when he moved, she took them away with no contact. I just want visitation and I definitely can prove that it's in their best interest. I just wondered if my son could ask for this grandparent reasonable visitation in his parenting plan? Thanks again.

Thank you for your patience.

While you are not asking for custody, you are asking for "visitation", and that is treated similarly to a custodial hearing. Therefore if you file you will be at a severe disadvantage.

Your son can ask that you be granted rights when he files, but the courts will probably not permit me. They will claim that while the children are with your son, he as the custodial parent (at that moment), is free to personally grant you access to the children, for which no special permission would be necessary. In other words if you want separate and legal rights you would still have to file for visitation. If you want to be granted voluntary access, once your son gets custody, you will be able to see them while the kids are with him if he grants you permission to do so.

Hope that helps.

Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 9/1/2010 at 4:42 PM EST
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