On June 7, 2018, Senate Bill 5598 took effect. The bill is officially called “An act relating to granting relatives, including but not limited to grandparents, the right to seek visitation with a child
through the courts.”
Washington family law attorney Brandon Holt from Pacific Northwest Family Law was recently interviewed on the radio about the newly approved bill. In the interview, he explained the criteria that must be met in order to apply for grandparents’ rights under this new bill.
Just as the title suggests, the new act grants relatives the right to seek visitation with a childthrough court. This means that anyone who is either blood related or related by marriage to a child is able to request visitation rights even if it is against the desire of the biological parents. In order to apply for such rights, a relative must prove to have maintained an ongoing or substantial relationship with the child for at least two years or half of the child’s life if the child is younger than two years old. The relative must also prove that it is in the best interest of the child and that he or she will suffer harm if the right to maintain that relationship is not granted.
Mr. Holt highlighted that with this act, legislature is aiming to balance the constitutional rights of the parents and the interest of the child. He also emphasized the importance of meeting with an attorney before petitioning for grandparents’ or relatives’ rights, considering there are many complex legal nuances. This law follows the ‘one and done clause’ and therefore a relative is only permitted to petition the court on this matter one time. If they are denied rights then they cannot reapply.
The attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law handle a variety of family law issues in Washington and can answer questions and provide legal guidance regarding grandparents’ rights or any other family law matter.