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How can I get custody/legal guardianship of my niece and nephew?

Bellingham, WA |

My niece and nephew are the children of unemployed, homeless, drug addict, divorced parents. The kids live with their grandparents who are unable and unwilling to raise them. I live 100miles away and have 3kids of my own. I would love to have them live with me and I think I could even get my brother and his ex wife to agree, but I want it to be official and binding, so they can't take them back whenever they want and continue to disrupt their lives and destroy whatever stability and normalcy I can create. What's the best way to go about this? Have a lawyer involved? Write up my own contract? Become a foster parent and get cps involved? I'd want to be able to get them insured, make medical and school decisions, and have a say in visitation.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    It sounds like you may be able to file a non-parental custody petition and ask for court ordered custody. See my AVVO Legal Guides on non-parental custody for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although my AVVO Answers and Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. There are always exceptions to the general rules. To find my Legal Guides, click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "Contributor Level - View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Contribution - Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 32 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”. © Bruce Clement

    ©Bruce Clement. This AVVO Answer is provided for general educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney responding, and no attorney-client confidentiality. The law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided in this Answer is general in nature and may not apply to the factual circumstances described in your question. The applicable law and the appropriate answer may be different in the State or States where the relevant facts occurred. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes.


  2. You would have to file a third party custody action and have both biological parents agree to enter an order specifying the same. Absent that agreement, you would have to prove in court that both biological parents are unfit -- a very difficult, and expensive task. In Wa. state, biological parents have an absolute right to determine who sees their children and when, if at all. Any agreement that is not approved by the court is unenforceable, so you may not write up your own contract.

    Please note that THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE and are for informational purposes only. This response is not intended to create any attorney-client relationship and is only based on the limited facts given. The response might change should additional facts be learned and should not be relied on as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney who can properly assess the situation, as well as all pertinent facts, prior to taking any action based on the foregoing statements

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