Minor guardianship is for custody of children under age 18 who are not yours. It replaces the former process of non-parent custody.
There are two main tracks in Minor Guardianship: an Emergency Minor Guardianship Case or a Minor Guardianship case. Many people may need to file both to obtain the relief they need. An article comparing the two types of cases was written by Navigate Law Group.
Emergency Minor Guardianships only last 60 days, but can be extended an additional 60 days by the court. Minor Guardianships last until the child turns 18 or the guardianship is terminated by the court, whichever occurs first.
An Emergency Minor Guardianship case can be filed at the same time as a Minor Guardianship case, or it can be filed first and then followed by a Minor Guardianship case. An Emergency Minor Guardianship case may be used if short-term court orders are needed for the child or a court order is needed right away. The court may use an Emergency Minor Guardianship Order to place the children with a guardian while the Minor Guardianship case moves forward.
Forms and instructions
To get started, see the instruction sheet with steps and a list of forms to file for emergency and/or regular minor guardianship reviewed by a Clark County judge.
Washington state's official mandatory pattern forms for minor guardianship cases are on the State Court website.
Instructions and forms to respond to a minor guardianship case that has been filed:
- What are my rights if my child is the subject of a minor guardianship action? from Navigate Law Group
- File an objection and ask for a lawyer if you are a parent in a minor guardianship case from Washington LawHelp
- Information about requesting an attorney from the Clark County Clerk
- Filing to end a guardianship or non-parent custody to get your children back from Washington LawHelp
The required Lay Guardian Training for Minor Guardianship from the Administrative Office of the Courts will help you understand and carry out your duties and responsibilities as the guardian of a minor.
Information about the change from non-parent custody to minor guardianship:
- An overview of the change from Washington LawHelp
- Information about the changes to the law from the Clark County Clerk
Legal Voice has a handbook for grandparents and other non-parent caregivers who want to understand their rights to establish and maintain legal relationships with the children in their care.
If you are raising a child of another family member or a family friend, (i.e., providing 'kinship care'), some support and services are available from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. If you are a kinship caregiver taking care of a relative's child, Washington LawHelp has information about how to get health care for that child.