Washington  |  Family Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 3/07/10, 9:16 am

what rights a an aunt do I have for visitation to see my nieces?

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Answered on: 3/12/10, 9:30 am by Thuong-Tri Nguyen

Unless the court finds the legal parents to be unfit parents, the legal parents generally have the right to determine who will see their children. Therefore, an aunt has no legal right to access to the children unless the court determines that the parents are unfit and it would be in the best interest of the children to have visitation with the aunt.

You should review your specific facts with your attorney to see what legal options you have.

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Answered on: 3/14/10, 9:38 pm by Gary Preble

There are two issues involved: custody and visitation. If the parents are unfit or placement with an otherwise fit parent would have a detrimental effect on the child, a non-parent can gain custody against a parent.

As to visitation, however, when the parent is not unfit, your chances are slim to none.

If you are interested in the reasoning of the court, the main case in this matter is Custody of Smith at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1110911.html. It went to the US Supreme Court under the name of Troxell v. Granville, at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=99-138 (There is a Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandparent_visitation which gives a decent summary, but the Custody of Smith case gives the best analysis for your purposes.)

The WA legislature tried to change the law, but the WA Supreme Court again upheld the Smith ruling in Parentage of C.A.M.A. at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1076581.html

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