Gevurtz Menashe

PDX 503.227.1515
WA 360.823.0410

Guardianship of Minors

Guardianship attorneys in Oregon & Washington
There are several circumstances in which either formal or informal guardianship of children may be appropriate. Whether a child needs to be temporarily in the custody of someone other than their parents, or a more long-term placement, guardianship may give the authority to provide for the child. 

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Guardianship attorneys in Oregon & Washington

In both Oregon and Washington, people other than biological parents can establish a parent/child relationship. Usually this involves a situation in which someone other than a legal parent has participated in a significant way in raising the child. This is common with blended families, families headed by same-sex couples, grandparents and other family members who are close to the child.

Understanding The Legal Process

In order to establish legal guardianship, custody, or visitation rights over the objection of a legal parent, you must petition and prove to the Court that the child’s legal parent does not act in the child’s best interest.

Child guardianship, custody and visitation in both Oregon and Washington is not exclusive to birth, or adoptive, parents. Both laws allow children to continue to enjoy contact with step-parents, grandparents, and others who have played a significant child-rearing role, but who no longer live with them, sometimes even if the child’s legal parent does not agree. Visitation rights extend to both heterosexual and same-sex couples who may not have been married, who now live separately, but who were both important to the life of a child in their home. Biological parentage, blood relationship, and/or legal adoption is not required in order to claim visitation rights.

Washington courts also recognize  “de facto parentage,” giving parental rights to a non-parent who, with the consent of the legal parent, and sharing the same household, has committed to a permanent parental role long enough to bond with the child and establish a parental relationship.

Legal Rights of a Stepparent and Others

With the help of an attorney, any person can explore the possibility of establishing rights under Oregon and Washington law. If they have established a personal relationship of “interaction, companionship, interplay and mutuality” with the child which has lasted continuously for a year or more, they may be able to assert visitation rights. If they have provided for the child’s physical needs and for the child’s psychological needs for parenting continuously and recently in such a relationship, they may be able to assert custody rights.

A step-parent who is divorcing the child’s legal parent has additional rights within the dissolution proceeding. The court will determine whether the proven facts allow the court to overrule the choices of a legal parent, and if so, who should be awarded responsibility for the child’s custody, and what visitation with others will be best for the child. These cases should be discussed and prepared with the help of a family law attorney who is familiar with the law.

Contact us today.

Gevurtz Menashe family and juvenile law attorneys have been helping clients navigate child visitation and guardianship issues for over 30 years. Additionally, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help with estate planning adjustments should you become a legal guardian or, after the child turns 18, whether an adult guardianship is necessary or appropriate. If you are interested in learning more, call us today at 503-227-1515 in Portland, at 360-823-0410 in Vancouver or schedule a consult online.

Call our Portland, OR offices at: 503-227-1515
and our Vancouver, WA office at 360-823-0410
or contact us to request a consultation.