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Change a Nonparent Custody Order to Get Your Children Back

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line LSC Funded

You should read this if you are a parent who lost custody of your child in a Nonparent Custody case filed in Washington State before July 1, 2019. #3151EN

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Should I read this?

You should read this if you are a parent who lost custody of your child in a Nonparent Custody case filed in Washington State before July 1, 2019.

Who should not read this?

This does not apply to you if

  • you lost custody in a Dependency Case

  • you lost custody to the child's other parent

  • your parental rights have been terminated

What will I learn?

Why it is now easier to do this, what courts will be looking for now, and how to ask the court that heard your Nonparent Custody case to change the order and give the child back to you.

What has changed?

Before July 1, 2019, you had limited options for winning back custody of your child from a nonparent who had gotten a custody order. You had to be able to prove to the court that there was a change in the child's or nonparent's situation. You also had to prove that giving the child back to you would be in the child's best interests. The court would not look at whether your own situation had changed.

On July 1, 2019, the Washington Court of Appeals in In Re Custody of S.M. and A.M. held that standard to be unconstitutional. The court held that a parent should have a chance to show a change in your own situation. It also held that you no longer have to prove that it is in the child's best interest to be returned to you.

*You will also have to show that it will not harm the child's growth and development to be returned to your custody.

I lost custody to my child's grandmother last year. I was in a bad place then. My situation is much better now.

You can file a Petition to Change Parenting Plan case to ask the court to return custody of your child to you. You can present evidence and declarations that prove the changes in your situation.

At this time, you can use our File a Petition to Change a Parenting Plan, Residential Schedule, or Custody Order packet. You will have to change some forms to show that you are looking to modify (change) a parenting plan from a Nonparent Custody case. Watch WashingtonLawHelp.org for a new packet.

 

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of October 2019.

© 2019 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Last Review and Update: Oct 25, 2019
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