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Family law: Can grandparents seek custody if CPS removes a child?

Anyone in Washington who is concerned about the welfare, health or safety of a child can report it to Child Protective Services. As soon as such a report is filed, family law requires CPS to investigate the circumstances in the home where the child lives. If CPS finds any reason to suspect that harm may come to the child, it will evaluate the situation to determine whether there is a viable option to improve the child's safety.

If it is decided that the child must be removed and placed elsewhere, CPS is obliged to notify grandparents or other close relatives of its intentions, and even to attempt placing the child with relatives of one of the parents. Grandparents are usually the most appropriate relatives to take care of children who are no longer safe in current conditions. As such, they are allowed to petition CPS to place the child with them.

However, this could turn out to be a complicated process. Within two weeks after the removal, the parents will have the opportunity to attend a court hearing at which they can challenge the child's removal. At this time, it will be up to the judge to decide where to place the child while the case remains pending. Grandparents who want to take the child into their care must attend that hearing to inform the court and to make a legal request.

Sometimes, grandparents in Washington want to ensure the child has some stability by offering a permanent rather than a temporary home. For this purpose, they will be required to petition the court for custody of the child. This is where an already challenging process could become even more complicated because the parents or other relatives might also seek custody. Fortunately, the services of an experienced family law attorney can be a valuable asset in the corner of the grandparents. A lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance to achieve an outcome that will be in the best interests of the child.

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