Family Law: Third Party – Grandparent Custody in Washington

There used to be a specific statutory section governing third party or grandparent custody cases (RCW 26.10). Third party referred to anyone other than the biological parents (grandparents, aunts, uncles, other friends and neighbors), who wants to seek custody of the child. Third parties were able to seek custody of minor children where either both parents are unfit, or where the children have been voluntarily placed with the third party by the parents.

This statute was done away with by our State Legislature in 2021, and Third Party Custody cases are no longer allowed.

Instead, effective January 2021 the legislature created a new expanded Minor Guardianship action under RCW 11.130. This law authorizes someone to take care of a child under age 18 who is not their own. Instead of filing for non-parent custody, you now file for guardianship of a minor.