Juvenile Guardianships/Third-Party Custody
If you are a family member that has found yourself caring for a child that is not biologically or legally yours, a guardianship may be the right path for you. A guardianship gives you legal decision-making authority and physical custody of a child so that you can act as their parent. This can be a great option when one or both parents are in agreement to the guardianship and/or one or both parents has abandoned the child.
We can also discuss family court custody options as well, as there are many paths to achieve legal custody of a child.
We assist birth parents and adoptive parents in their shared goal of giving a child a good home.
Stepparents usually play an important and critical role in their stepchildren’s lives. Frequently, children spend most or all of their time living with one set of parents, and that set of parents may include one parent who is not a biological parent. The non-biological parent may have as much of a role as a biological parent – nurturing the child, caring for the child, being responsible for the child’s necessities.
However, legally the non-biological parent does not have any rights over the child prior to adoption. If, for instance, the child’s biological parent were to be in an accident where the parent is hospitalized or killed, the non-biological parent would not automatically have custody, and would not have the opportunity to make critical legal decisions for the child.
Those decisions over legal and physical custody could include where the child lives. This is the case even if the stepparent and the custodial parent are married, and even if the noncustodial biological parent is deceased. The stepparent must go through the adoption process to become the child’s legal parent.
For a person to adopt his or her stepchild in Washington, the parental rights of the child’s noncustodial biological parent must be terminated. Ideally, the noncustodial biological parent is in agreement with the proposal, and gives consent. If he or she gives consent, the parties can go to the court with an adoption plan. If the court approves, the adoption can move forward. This is the simplest and easiest way for the adoption to proceed. However, there are many complicated legal steps to be followed, even in the simplest of circumstances. Your best path forward is to have an experienced attorney assisting you.
If the other biological parent cannot be found or opposes the adoption, you may still have legal options. So be sure to contact us for your consultation.
Private adoptions/Extended Family Adoptions
We also help clients with a wide range of adoptions, including independent private adoptions, and extended family and grandparent adoptions.
We will take you through the steps to complete your adoption, obtain a home study, and navigate this complicated legal process. Call today at 360-329-4103 to go over your options.