Non-Parent Custody has changed to Minor Guardianship

Washington state's non-parent custody law ended in 2021 and a new court procedure called minor guardianship has taken its place. Read a brief overview here. #3128EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, if either of these is true:

  • You were involved in a non-parent custody case in a court in the state of Washington. The court issued final orders in your case.
  • You are thinking about filing such a case in a Washington State court.

You will learn how Washington's non-parent custody law has ended, and a new law has replaced it.

You will learn a little about the differences between the old and new laws.

You will learn what this might mean for your final non-parent custody orders, if you want to change them.

* We will also tell you where you can get legal help.

Washington passed a new law that started in January 2021. The new law creates a different court process for authorizing 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.

Yes. Here are just a few important differences.

  • A parent who objects to someone else taking guardianship over their children may get a lawyer appointed at public expense if they cannot afford one.
  •  The person who files for minor guardianship must notify more people about the case than if they were filing for non-parent custody.
  • Children may have more rights in a minor guardianship case than in a non-parent custody case.
  • You can file a minor guardianship case suggesting that someone else take care of the children.
* Check back here for updates on the new minor guardianship law.

Someone who gets minor guardianship can choose to have physical custody of the children (the children live with them most of the time) the same as if the court awarded them non-parent custody. But they can also choose to let the children live with someone else.

Yes. The person to whom the court awarded custody of the children still has legal custody.

If you are a parent who lost custody in a non-parent custody case, and you are ready to try to get your kids back, use our Instructions for Filing to End a Guardianship or Nonparent Custody Order to Get Your Children Back packet. The forms you must use have changed along with the law.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Jan 05, 2024
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