Still getting confused? How Minor Guardianship replaces Non Parent Custody 


We’ve written blogs about residential time and parenting plan, information about unmarried parents having parenting rights, and other useful blogs before. We’re also receiving questions about minor guardianship and how nonparent custody is related to it. Here are the differences.


What Is A Non Parental Custody?


People can file to ask a Superior Court to give them visits with a child who is not their governing child who lives in Washington State. However, a petitioner does not necessarily need to live in Washington State for this law to apply. 


Difference between Non Parental Custody vs Minor Guardianship


The Nonparental custody was replaced by Minor guardianship law which started in January 2021. Basically, someone who gets minor guardianship gets physical custody of the children the same as if the court awarded them non-parent custody.


  • 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.


Who can file for non-parent visitation / minor guardianship? 


Below can file for a petition to visit:

– Any blood relative 

– Any blood relative’s spouse 

– Stepparent, stepsister, or stepbrother 

– Half-sister or -brother

–  A relative as defined by the law or custom of the child’s tribe, if the child is Indian 

– If the child is Indian and no tribal law or custom that defines extended family members, any grandparent, adult aunt or uncle, adult sibling, adult brother- or sister-in-law, any adult niece or nephew, any adult first or second cousin, or a stepparent 


Who cannot file for non-parent visits?


A parent who had a court end or terminated parental rights cannot file for a petition. Additionally, a parent who gave up (surrendered) his/her parental rights cannot file as well. 


What are other requirements to file a petition for nonparent custody?


A non-parent may file for a petition for Washington child visitation if they meet any of the abovementioned petitioners. 


On top of that, the non-parent must have:

–  “an ongoing and substantial relationship with the child”

–   show a likelihood the child will experience harm or a substantial risk of harm without visitation. Read more about the law: RCW 26.11


What should the non-parent do? Will there be a hearing?


The non-parent (Petitioner) must file a form called a Petition starting a court case and written statements from people who agree Petitioner should have visited. The petitioner must also deliver a copy of the Petition to the parent. The parent may then file an affidavit if he/she supports or opposes this petition of visit.


A hearing may be called if the court judge is likely to decide to grant the visits. If the judge does not think they’ll grant the visits, there will not be a hearing. The petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that not allowing visits would cause the child harm. It is important to prove the likelihood of harm or substantial risk of harm by clear and convincing evidence.


We recommend taking to an experienced family law attorney if you are a parent or a petitioner. Soriano Law LLC serves multiple counties in Washington State and may be able to serve you. Book a free consultation now or call (360) 249-6174.