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Grandparents' visitation rights in Washington

Many states have started to recognize the visitation rights of non-parents, such as grandparents, foster parents, stepparents and other caregivers. According to the provisions of many state statutes, grandparents or other non-parents can submit a petition to the court to allow them to visit the child.

Most states have established guidelines to allow grandparents to visit their grandchildren. There are two kinds of laws under which grandparents' rights of visitation are granted: restrictive and permissive. Restrictive laws allow grandparents and other non-parents to have visitation rights only when the parents are divorced or one or both parents are deceased. On the other hand, permissive laws allow grandparents and other non-parents to seek visitation rights, even when both parents are alive and married.

The State of Washington allows grandparents and any other third party to seek visitation rights according to its laws and the court has the discretion of granting such rights if such visitation is in the best interests of the child. However, the court has the power to overwrite the parent's decision with respect to such visitation even if the parent is perfect mental health. The U.S. Supreme Court feels that the law violates the fundamental right of a parent to make decisions regarding the upbringing of the child and is declared unconstitutional.

In response to this ruling, every state now defers to the parents of the child and allows the parents to challenge the decision before granting visitation rights to grandparents or other non-parents. However, disputes regarding grandparents' visitation rights can be settled out of court through mediation.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Grandparent Visitation Rights," Accessed on June 26, 2015;

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