House Bill 1506: Third Party Visitation Bill

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Last Updated: January 22, 2014
House Bill 1506: Third Party Visitation Bill
Sponsors:
Representatives Pedersen, Nealey, Goodman, Fagan, Kagi, Jinkins, Hope, Walsh, Orwall, Green, Hansen, Ryu, Ormsby, Roberts, Johnson, Pollet
Summary:

House Bill 1506 would have allowed any person who is not the parent of the child to petition for visitation with the child if they had "established an ongoing and substantial relationship with the child." Under this bill a person could even have petitioned the court where the family is an intact two parent home.

House Bill 1506 stated that a person can demonstrate they have established an "ongoing and substantial relationship" when they have had a relationship with a child of "substantial continuity for at least one year through interaction, companionship, and mutuality, without expectation of financial compensation." Mutuality is simply shared sentiments.

This bill would have caused intact families, including perfectly fit parents, to face potential court challenges to their parenting decisions whenever they limit or restrict their child's visitation to another person. While the bill did provide some minimal protections of parent's decision making, the parent will still have been required to defend any petition for visitation right, no matter how outrageous.

HSLDA's Position:

HSLDA is vehemently opposed to House Bill 1506 as it would have significantly impacted a parent's right to determine who they allow their child to associate with.

Action Requested:
None at this time
Status:

01/29/13     (House)     First reading, referred to Judiciary.
02/06/13     (House)     Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary at 8:00 a.m.
03/13/13     (House)     Bill died as this was the last day of this session to consider bills in the hour of origin.

1/13/14     (House)     By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.

Background:

Under House Bill 1506 the person filing a petition for visitation rights would have only had to allege that they had a sufficient relationship with the child before "interference" by the parent and that the child would likely suffer harm or the substantial risk of harm if visitation is not granted. A court then would have held a hearing if it found that it was more likely than not that visitation would be granted.

Under the bill there was a presumption that "a fit parent's decision to deny visitation is in the best interest of the child and does not create a likelihood of harm or substantial risk of harm to the child." However, this presumption could have been be overcome by the petitioner by clear and convincing evidence that the child would likely suffer harm or the substantial risk of harm if visitation was not granted.

In Troxel v. Granville the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the prior visitation statute in Washington because the fundamental right of the parent to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of the children was violated. Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion stated that the standard of review to apply in this situation would be the strict scrutiny standard. This standard requires the law or policy enacted to be justified by a compelling governmental interest, that it be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest, and that it be the least restrictive means for achieving that interest. We did not believe that House Bill 1506 did this.

Ever since 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Washington's visitation statute in Troxel v. Granville the legislature has attempted to pass another visitation statute. Up to now all have failed because they don't adequately protect the right of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History