Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

New Law Establishes Visitation Petition Process

October 2018 Bar Bulletin

By Nikki Coleman

Earlier this year, the Washington Legislature passed a law that grants non-parent relatives the opportunity to obtain court-ordered visitation with a child that is not theirs. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-parent visitation laws invaded a parent’s due process right to control their child’s visitation and were, therefore, unconstitutional.1 However, the Court did not define the scope of a parent’s due process right to control non-parental visitation.

This new family law action is called a “petition for visits” and has been commonly referred to as the “grandparents’ rights law” or “non-parent visitation.” “Non-parent relatives” include any blood relative, step-relatives and adoptive...

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