Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Non-parental custody/New Guardianship Statute

There is a new statute that replaces the non-parental custody ("3rd party custody") actions.   The new statute has created two causes of action -- emergency minor guardianship and minor guardianship.

The process is similar to the old non-parental action in that to initiate the action, you must show that neither parent is available or able to perform "parenting functions."  This could be due to abandonment, imprisonment, or incapacity -- often, as we know, due to drug use or simply love of life "on the street" (without responsibility).

If you are a relative, you do not need to pay the filing fee, which is an improvement on the old system.  There is also a streamlined process for getting the children attorneys, and for appointing a "court visitor" to do an initial investigation up front, and to appoint a guardian ad litem.  The children over the age of 12 must be served with your petition, and the older children have more "voice" in the process.

Frankly, the courts are still working their way through the new statute, but Craig Mason of Mason Law has taken most courses he can find on the new statute, and he is reading and re-reading the new statute as he works on the cases he has taken under the new statute.  If you need to intervene because the parents of children you care about cannot perform their parenting functions, or if you are a parent who has recovered your ability and willingness to parent, contact Mason Law of Spokane, WA, at 509.443.3681.