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...