Families often include much more than just parents and children. Extended families are common and grandparents frequently play large roles in a child’s life. When it comes to custody and visitation, however, do grandparents have rights in Washington?
Rick Jones, one of our founders, appears on the Danny Bonaduce Show to talk about family law, divorce, and custody. One caller had a question about her rights as a grandparent and whether or not she needed to get permission from both her daughter and son-in-law to take her grandchildren out of Washington.
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She describes her situation below:
Caller: “I need to take my grandchildren down to Florida to visit family. My daughter and I have been estranged for three years due to drugs. I get to see the kids, who are teenagers, through their father. He has given his permission. Do I have to get my daughter’s permission to take them to Florida?”
As so often happens in family law matters, this situation gets complicated fast.
In answering this question, Rick points out a common misconception about the rights grandparents do and don’t have.
While many states have provisions and laws to secure visitation rights for grandparents, Washington does not. As a result, while this grandmother doesn’t need permission from both parents, she does, however, need to rely on the son-in-law’s allocated custody time.
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Rick elaborates below:
Rick: “In most states, you are right, but not in Washington. Unfortunately, when it comes to grandparents’ rights, the state of the law in Washington is fairly tough. Grandparents’ rights are nearly non-existent. You will only see grandparents get involved when a parent is incapable of filling the parent role. In those instances, you may see a grandparent step in as a third-party custodian.
“For now, you are going to need to rely upon the kindness of your daughter or your prior son-in-law to allocate some of their custody time to you. It won’t be considered kidnapping because you are there under your son-in-law’s custodial time by his permission. The best thing for you to do is to continue to get a parent’s permission to spend time with your grandchildren.”
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