Non-parent custody petition refers to a situation where someone who didn’t biologically give birth to a child is requesting for legal custody of the child. This non-parent person is called the petitioner. To win this case in court, there must be substantial evidence that the parent is either unfit or the place the child lives is unfit for development. It can be in terms of physical abuse or mental instability. The law is usually tighter if the child involved is of Indian origin. The only reason you should file a non-parent custody is if the biological parent isn’t suitable enough to take care of the child.

Usually, the parties in a non-parent custody action are either the child’s parents, legal guardians or someone with court-ordered visitation. The non-parent custody ends by dismissing the petition, irresponsiveness of the respondent, court decision or an agreed order. If you file for custody and win, you have the right to have the child reside with you and make major decisions in his or her behalf.

There are costs for copying, serving papers and hiring a lawyer; some costs might be waved, however, if you earn a low income. The petition must be filed in the appropriate, which normally depends on where the child has lived for most their life. It can sometimes be complex determining the appropriate jurisdiction, so hire a lawyer if you need help figuring this out.

It is important to note at this point that if Washington has no jurisdiction over the child, you can either file for custody in a state with jurisdiction, turn down the current jurisdiction and ask Washington to take over, or wait till the child has been in Washington for six months. You can also use emergency jurisdiction, especially in cases where the child has been abused continually. This same method applies if the child isn’t a U.S. citizen.

If a parent is unfit to take care of the child, the judge may award you child custody. On the other hand, if the court determines that it is not in the child’s best interest to reside with you, then the petition will be denied. If there is a dependency case, the court must wait till the case ends, unless the court agrees to share jurisdiction with the superior court.

If a non-parent wins the custody of the child, then the biological parent may still be required to pay child support or be responsible for other financial decisions that pertain to the child in question.

Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.

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