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Washington grandparents sue state over custody battle

Spokane grandparents understand the truly unique and overwhelming joy that grandchildren bring. Grandparents can play a huge role in a child's life, and in unique situations, can sometimes become a primary caretaker or guardian of a child.

Recently, a couple went to court suing the state of Washington and seeking damages over the custody battle for their grandchild. The grandparents went through a three-year child custody battle with the Department of Social and Health Services. The grandparents allege that the DSHA were negligent in handing their grandchild's case and as a result, she is suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. In total, the grandparents are seeking award for $2.6 million to compensate the child for emotional distress suffered due to the state's behavior and unlawful prevention of allowing the child to be reunited with her relatives, rather than being placed in foster homes.

Grandparents can play a large role in a grandchild's life, including seeking to become a primary caretaker or adopting their grandchild if the need arises. While laws and statutes vary state to state in determining custody, every state will consider the best interest of the child before awarding custody. A Washington court will grant custody or visitation rights only when certain conditions have been satisfactorily met.

The best interests of a child may include but are not limited to the capability of the grandparents to raise the child, the length, strength and disposition of the relationship between grandchild and grandparent, the distance between the parties, the capability of the grandparents to meet the need of the child, and the needs of the child.

While many considerations are evaluated and weighed in a custody case, a grandparent may be awarded custody under the proper circumstances. If you are seeking custody of a grandchild, it is important to remember that a judge will have the discretion to determine what is in the child's best interest, and a biological parent will generally have a stronger claim absent abuse or mistreatment. An attorney can help evaluate your case and inform you of the legal options available to you.

Source: King5.com, "High profile grandparent's rights case goes to trial," Feb. 27, 2013

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