Minor guardianship

General information

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.

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

Washington state's official mandatory pattern forms for minor guardianship cases are on the State Court website.

To file an emergency and/or minor guardianship case:

To respond to a minor guardianship case that has been filed:

Additional resources

Prior to the hearing you will need to get a file a WATCH report on every person over the age of 16 in the proposed guardian's home.

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.

Washington LawHelp has additional information about minor guardianship cases including how to give an Indian tribe notice and information for teens if someone has filed to have a court appoint a guardian for you.

Information about the change from non-parent custody to minor guardianship:

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.