In the last 10 years, Washington State has taken a step toward allowing some non-biological parents the opportunity secure child custody and child visitation—even if they never officially adopted the child. Termed a de facto parent, these caregivers must prove that they have a parent-like relationship with the child: they must financially support the child, live with the child, and have permission from a biological parent to help raise the child.

Historically, the de facto parenting law has related to same-sex partners who have raised a child together, in which one partner was a biological parent and the other was not. However, the de facto parenting argument has since been used in other cases.

Here are four cases in which you may be able to argue that you are a de facto parent:

  • Same-sex partners – In many same-sex partnerships across the nation, one non-biological partner is raising a child fully—but without legal rights. However, in Washington State—since the legalization of gay marriage—same-sex de facto parent child custody cases will likely become rare.
  • Stepparents – In most cases, stepparents are not considered de facto parents because two biological parents still exist and because the stepparent entered into the child’s life after the child’s birth. However, one recent case in Washington involved a stepparent who raised a child from birth after the biological father died during the biological mother’s pregnancy.
  • Men who are unknowingly raising another man’s child – While no cases have yet taken place under these circumstances, it is possible that a man who is raising a non-biological child without his knowledge could argue that he is the de facto parent.
  • Grandparents or other relatives – In theory, a grandparent or other relative could argue that they are a de facto parent. Of course, they would have to prove that they have a parent-like bond with the child, that they were allowed to form this bond with the child, and that they didn’t care for the child with the expectation of financial gain. They would also have to of lived with the child.

Do you believe that you may have child custody and visitation rights because you are a de facto parent? Contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to find out more about your case.

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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
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