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Seattle Child Custody Overview

Overview

If you are not the parent of the child you can file a petition seeking non-parental custody. This item can be filed by anyone (in theory), but normally they are filed by an aunt, uncle, grand parent or step parent. The petition will need to allege that either the child is not either a suitable custodian or allege that the child is not in custody of the parent. In Seattle, the parents do have the right to custody as per the constitution. However, if the Childs growth development would be effected detrimentally by placement with an unfit parent or should both parents be unfit then the custody of that child then custody may be awarded to another. In order to serve the best interests of the child this statute has overarching purpose. The burden is on the petitioning non-parent to prove this by substantial evidence which your Seattle family lawyer can help with.

Procedure

All of the Seattle court pleadings you may submit must be prepared on mandatory forms which are approved by the court. These petitions must be filed in the county which the child currently permanently resides or where the child is currently located. The child’s parents, guardian or custodian must be given notice of these pleadings. Should someone be seeking custody via a motion will be denied unless the court first finds that “adequate cause” for the motion exists. If it is supported by the sworn affidavits or declarations that are filed then a temporary custody order can be granted upon a motion. For temporary child support in Seattle, each party can file a motion. Also, a motion can be filed for a restraining order, or a domestic violence protection order. The preparation of an independent report ad Litem will be ordered by the court or from Seattle Family Court Services regarding custody and visitation.

Final Orders

After the trial, based on the merits of the case, the final orders regarding visitation, child custody and support will be entered.  A Seattle court can enter an order awarding custody of the child or children with the non-parent petitioner if after testimony of the witnesses the court find that both parents are unfit, or that placement of the child with a parent would detrimentally affect the child’s growth and development. This depends on which the court finds to be in the best interest for the child. In Seattle, under certain circumstances, such as a record of willful abandonment, sexual molestation, domestic violence, physical abuse, or certain sexual offenses the visitation of the biological parents may be restricted. The custodian ordered by the court, will then be in control of the child’s education, health care and religious training, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

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