In the state of Washington, physical and legal custody of a child usually belongs to the parents. There are cases, however, in which the court must intervene. When there are no competent adults in a child’s life or the child is in a situation where their physical or mental health is in danger, the state can take dependency of the child via a dependency action.
In dependency actions, Child Protective Services and the foster care system take custody of the child, and the state becomes the child’s guardian. At that time, the court needs to figure out where to place the child, either temporarily or permanently.
Who can be appointed minor guardianship?
Individuals in the child’s life, such as grandparents, relatives or family friends, can petition the court to take care of the child as if they were the child’s parent. This is minor guardianship. The court can grant minor guardianship to such an individual if:
- Both parents agree to the court’s appointment of a guardian
- Parental rights are terminated
- It is in the child’s best interest as specified by law, and there is clear and convincing evidence that no parent of the minor(s) can care for them.
The intent of the court in the process of minor guardianship
A guardian has the same responsibilities as the child’s parent(s). The court will ensure that this person can adequately parent the child by considering the best interests of the child, such as the ability to provide a stable, loving environment and make good decisions in favor of the child’s welfare.
The court’s goal is to appoint an individual who can perform the necessary duties and provide a proper environment for the child to grow and thrive.
Minor guardianships can be highly fraught, but these appointments can be vital to a child’s safety and well-being.